Is the accusation that parents are guilty of child neglect if they spend their time in front of a screen instead of playing with their children going too far or do we need such a wake-up call in this technologically-obsessed world?
Midwives are reporting that more and more mothers are not ‘completely present’ during labour because they are too caught up in the virtual world of texting and posting Facebook updates.
These midwives say that mothers are missing out on the full experience of giving birth to their babies as, ironically, they are filling in every man and his dog on how the birth is progressing on their mobile phones.
Some mums-to-be may argue, anything to take them out of the extremely painful and gruelling experience that is giving birth.
However, it appears mother’s obsession with the screen does not end in the delivery room. A lot of mothers, and fathers, are spending vast quantities of their time with an iPhone or laptop in front of their face instead of interacting with their children.
In addition, they are plonking their children in front of the television for long spells of time, all giving off one clear message, that screens – whether TV, computer or phone – are more important than communication face-to-face.
This growing phenomenon is causing increasing concern amongst psychologists. Dr Aric Sigman has gone as far as to say parents who spend their time on their phones in front of their children are guilty of benign child neglect.
He believes the phones are taking up precious time which parents should be spending interacting with their children, while at the same time, instilling in the next generation a false importance on a virtual world.
Dr Sigman’s words may seem a little extreme. Child neglect is a phrase most people will associate with terrible stories in the news of child starvation, children forced to live in horrendous conditions or left home alone.
But neglect does not have to be visible to the human eye. I can see how damaging it would be for children psychologically to miss out on vital time playing and communicating with their parents because mum or dad is too busy updating their Facebook status or trying to snap up a bargain on Ebay.
I think it is right to start using words such as neglect in the same sentence as iPhones, laptops and televisions because as a society we are so caught up in these gadgets that perhaps some parents could do with a good shake-up in order for them to get their priorities right.
Published in: Family