Little Jimmy is about to take his first steps .. quick, grab the camera! And the phone! And the iPad! Did you film it, Dad? Did you film it, Mum? Did you get that, Grandma? No? That’s ok, let’s get him to do it again. Go again, Jimmy, just like before. That’s it. Good boy. Did you all get it that time? Awesome, let’s upload it to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter.
We all know this situation well, because, let’s face it, we are Generation Technology. We are currently living in an age where we have so many different choices when it comes to recording things, interacting with people, learning, sharing .. the list is endless. As few as 5 years ago the level of technology available to us was considerably lower, so I am interested to see how things change in the coming years.
But, are we falling into the trap of parenting from behind screens? My father used to say, Enjoy the Moment, Not the Memory. What is more important, enjoying something as it happens, or being able to reflect back in months or years to come? And, are our kids going to remember Mum and Dad as faces semi-obscured by phones or iPads?
In our household, we are in no way technologically challenged. We have a PC, an iPad, two smart phones, two TVs and a LeapPad. And we love it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the elimination of all forms of technology. But sometimes I wonder if maybe we are letting our obsession with capturing the moment interfere with our actually experiencing the moment?
Princess takes singing and acting lessons and last month it was her first chance at solo singing. All the kids had to stand up and sing a verse from a chosen song in front of the class. This is a BIG deal, especially for a nervous kid like Princess. Now, Mr T couldn’t come to the class because of work, so he had asked me to film her performance for him. No worries. Princess’s turn came about and she walked up to the front of the room. I hit record on the iPad, and … she froze. She named the song she wanted to sing (the rather ambitious “Let it Go” from Frozen) and then, nothing. I paused my recording, walked over to her, whispered the first line of the song, patted her encouragingly on the shoulder and then went back to my ideal filming spot, ready to film her in action. She shyly mumbled the first few lines, giggled nervously and poked her tongue out at her friend. Classic Princess, really. Once it was clear that she was going to sing no more, her teacher ushered her away and the next child stood up. I was really disappointed. Was I disappointed that she didn’t sing a song that I know she has no trouble belting out at full force at home? Yea, I was. But, more than that. I was disappointed in myself because I let my need to film her performance overpower the fact that she actually got up, spoke in front of a group of kids, and perhaps could have sung it had I put my iPad down, sat next to her and held her hand while she sang. I wouldn’t have had anything to show Mr T when we got home, but she would have taken so much more away from the experience.
Now, I know, I write a blog on parenting, so I must spend a fair amount of time on the computer, right? It’s true, I do. But these blog posts take hours, sometimes days, to write out. I do two lines, then I go and change a nappy. A paragraph, then I cook tea. A line here, a picture there. I go on Facebook a lot, right? Yes, though not as much as people think I do – my computer sits on, signed in and I glance at it as I walk past through the day. But, even that is perhaps too much time behind screens.
It’s amazing how refreshed everyone feels if you turn off everything and get outside. Rain or shine, doesn’t matter – kids love splashing in puddles, jumping on the trampoline, gardening, helping hang the washing.
It’s easy, with how accessible technology is, to stand behind it but don’t underestimate your ability to remember a moment without the aid of photos or video footage. Gosh – if that were the case, our childhoods would be hollow of memories. And I know for sure, mine certainly isn’t!