It happened again this morning.
My 2-year-old, Annie, had just put on her Belle dress and was twirling in the living room. “Daddy, watch me!”
I told her “Ok,” and watched for a little bit. But soon, I looked down at my phone, eager to begin tackling the work day. There was some email, some text, or some story that I thought I needed to get a jump on. And that’s when Annie stepped up.
“No, no, no, Daddy. I take your phone.” She proceeded to grab it out of my hands and walk off. She then placed it on the side table across the room. “It stays over here,” she said. “Now watch Annie twirl.” She likes to refer to herself in the third person.
My heart sank. Even at 2, she realizes that I tend to give my phone more time than it deserves. It’s especially hard because she’s done it before, which means this isn’t the first time she’s noticed my attention was waning.
The image of her grabbing my phone and taking it away has been haunting me all morning. And as I think about it, I’m convinced God used my little 2-year-old to convict me. I shouldn’t be surprised. He tends to do things like that. Especially since I seem to have been missing the signposts along the way. I’ve been the one seeing studies and stories about the dangers of smartphones. And I’ve been writing multiple articles about how we need to be vigilant. One study even said that having your phone in the same room — not even checking it — is having an adverse effect. Here’s a list:
- Bad news about your smartphone
- New study: Checking your phone all the time could be affecting your kids
- Famed author offers another powerful reason to put down your cellphone
And yet, this morning my daughter had to yank my phone from my hand. She had to jolt me and call me to attention. She had to beg me to watch a moment that I will remember forever. She had to be God’s hands.
I come to you as a hypocrite: I know what I need to do, I show others the science that says what we need to do, and yet I need to do better. Parents, we need to do better. How many times have you been out to eat and seen a parent giving more attention to their phone than their child? How many times have you been at the mall and seen a parent looking down instead of around? How many times have you been in traffic and seen a parent, with children in the car, glued to their phones while driving?
How many times have we been THAT parent?
The Bible calls us to be examples to our children. Is it any wonder, then, why so many of them are tech-obsessed? How can I expect the next generation to value face-to-face time when, at 2-years-old, my daughter sees more of the top of my bald head than my bearded face? They’re getting it from us.
With that said, will you join me in vowing to look up more and down less at our phones? Can we promise, together, that we’re going to value our children so much that the text, email, and Facebook scroll can wait? And can we hold each other to that?
Because in the end, a toddler twirling in a yellow Belle dress is way more important than what your crazy uncle is ranting about on Facebook.