When we were at a restaurant one night, there was a family of 4, who sat down at the next table not long after, that caught my attention. I ...

When we were at a restaurant one night, there was a family of 4, who sat down at the next table not long after, that caught my attention. I can still remember the picture of them clearly even til now. One might ask, "What was so 'special' about them?" Well, the moment the four of them finished ordering their food, each took out their phone/tablet and started swiping away. No one talked to each other, or..... perhaps they were texting each other through WhatsApp or Messenger? *Shrugs* It was really a weird scene, but then it dawned on me that this is becoming a 'trend' in our society these days. Most of us simply do not talk anymore. We text, email, post on Facebook/Instagram and we tweet on Twitter. Some would argue, "What do you mean? It's quicker and more efficient this way. Talking is for old folks." Efficient, yes, I agree, but is it effective?

There was a program I saw on TV few days ago that discussed about the issue of how most children these days have both parents working hard to provide them with all the necessities and essentials, to make sure they are getting quality education, and any tuition, if required. As a result, the children don't get to see their parents much, let alone spending much time with them. Without a doubt, it is difficult to juggle between career and family. Getting them the best education will definitely make them smart, but parents are keeping their most valuable possession from them, and that is, their time. Most parents today are succumbing to their children's demand for gifts and gadgets because they feel guilty for working long hours, or even giving as a bribe to make their children do things, for e.g. homework

The truth is, the world of gadgets has flourished incredibly rapidly and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Most homes own at least one form of computing device, be it a desktop computer or a palm-sized smartphone. Parents of today’s generation are faced with the dilemma of allowing their kids to use these modern gadgets which often lead to serious addiction (even some parents are addicted to it themselves), or risk raising ignorant kids and making them feel left out and deprived especially when most of his/her peers own a gadget.  

I would say many of us parents have lived a wonderful life, growing up without these gadgets to rule our lives. But look around today. These gadgets are used to transfix kids in restaurants, used by schools for homework, hooked on to the car's headrest to keep the back passengers entertained and on any occasion where there is a risk of boredom. Plus, there are a lot of apps around that can help kids learn alphabets and numbers in a more interesting way, and also to keep toddlers busy, giving parents ample time to do chores or simply rest. So, is it easier for parents now to depend or hide behind these IT gadgets? From my point of view, it is important to find a meeting point.

I still remember back then before tablets existed, my parents would sit with me to talk, spend time playing games together, and basically just being there. Now, some parents just sit in front of their children, holding their phones/tablets and swiping to check emails/text/play games, without talking. Nobody is bonding with each other. When there is no bonding, there is no learning and this may eventually lead to a disaster because nobody is communicating. Remember, all the things children learn at home from parents will reflect in their personalities all their life. No one else in the world will tell us about the difficulties we will have to face in life and how to overcome them, or correct our mistakes when others just laugh at them, because no one is concerned about us like our parents.

Therefore, instead of attaching ourselves to a screen, why not think of some activities that involve both parents and kids so all can have fun together during weekends, like in the old times? It may not have to be the usual old board games, or a family outing or holiday as some might say, "I've been out the whole week already going to the office or school, so I just wanna stay at home and relax." There are some which you can do at home that not only can they let you spend time meaningfully, they can also help in developing skills. Perhaps you can even come up with ideas that incorporate your gadgets, and above all, these activities don't cost much, for e.g.:

  • Get messy with glue, colors and papers doing arts and crafts. Let kids draw or build whatever they want, developing their skill in drawing or coloring. Let their creativity and imagination run wild. Create a theme for the day like a flower garden, farm animals, or even hair day for dad! (Haha, can't wait to see my baby girl 'decorating' her daddy's hair with ribbons and clips in the near future :P)
  • Encourage kids to read by creating a family book club. Read together and then discuss about the stories.
  • Keep the camera rolling. Create a script, act it out, record and view together. Or, invent, name and pretend to be a superhero. I believe kids love superheroes. Through this, maybe parents will get the opportunity to understand their kids more, know what they think and feel.
  • Whipping up favorite food and snacks together. Sounds like a disaster in the kitchen? Lol. Putting the mess aside, I think that cooking/baking can actually help in many ways, such as, focus in doing something, develop fine motor skills (stirring, scooping, cracking eggs etc), learn ingredient names and mathematics (amount of ingredients used), train patience while waiting for food to be cooked, satisfaction from seeing the end results and boost confidence! (Can't wait for my baby to grow up so we can both have fun in the kitchen!!) However, safety must come first especially dealing with knives, scissors and hot oven.
The next time we indulge ourselves in games/texting, or simply just let ourselves get hooked on a screen (be it the TV, phone or PC), think again. Actual face-to face conversation will make the family more connected. After all, kids follow the example of their parents. 

Lastly, here's a post shared on Facebook that I read recently:

After dinner, a teacher started checking homework done by her students, while her husband was strolling around with a smart phone, playing his favorite game ‘Candy Crush Saga’. When reading the last paper, the wife started crying.

Husband: "Why are you crying, dear? What happened?"

Wife: "I asked my Primary One students to write something on the topic 'My   
          Wish' as homework yesterday."                   

Husband: "OK, but why are you crying?"

Wife: "Today while checking the papers, the last one makes me cry."

Husband: "What’s written on it that makes you cry?"

Wife: "Listen..."

'My wish is to become a smart phone.

My parents love smart phone very much.

They care for smart phone so much that sometimes they forget to care for me. When my father comes back from office tired, he has time for smart phone but not me.

When my parents are doing some important work and smart phone is ringing, within single ring they attend to the phone, but not me even...even if I am crying.

They play games on their smart phones, not with me. When they are talking to someone on their smart phone, they never listen to me even if I am telling something important.

So, my wish is to become a smart phone.'

After listening, the husband got emotional and asked the wife, "Who wrote this?"

Wife: "Our son".

Gadgets are beneficial, but they are for our ease, not to cease the love among family and loved ones. Children see and feel everything that happens around them. Things get imprinted on their mind with an everlasting effect. Let’s take due care, so that they do not grow with any false impressions.

Try putting the phone away and just talk :)

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