The Perils of Parenting While Texting

I’m not putting down my phone while the kids are in the playground. I have 3 BBM conversations going and one is with the husband about what’s for dinner and what’s going on this weekend. I’m laughing at something or someone with my friends in another, because we are evil. The best kind of evil.  And the third involves evening plans. I am checking twitter for the latest news. I may even tweet if I am bored enough and something strikes me.

I am not putting down my phone because I am parenting enough. If they fall, they will cry and I will probably hear them and they know where I am or one of their friends will know where to find me. I am sitting where I always sit and we have an understanding. They will run around the school yard after the end of day bell rings, as long as I will possibly let them – sometimes until the ridiculous hour of 5pm – and they will dig up worms and play in the sand and use sticks as swords (which they are totally not even allowed to do, because that’s UNSAFE). The baby is in his stroller. Or he’s out and I’m with him, vigilant for falls as he’s a new walker and I don’t really want him eating gravel. When they’re almost 5 and almost 7? My vigilance is quite reduced.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published the most RIDICULOUS article, entitled The Perils of Texting While Parenting and I just can’t even. Sorry, if I’m not holding my phone, should I be standing beside my child, like the ultra ultra helicopter parent I am not, to make sure he doesn’t get a single scrape? This is one of the most insane things I’ve ever read in a respected publication. To quote:

Childhood-injury specialists say there appear to be no formal studies or statistics to establish a connection between so-called device distraction and childhood injury. “What you have is an association,” says Dr. Gary Smith, founder and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Being able to prove causality is the issue…. It certainly is a question that begs to be asked.”

Two weeks ago, Callum fell hard in the playground, tripping over a wooden barrier and landing on his head. He cracked an old scar on his forehead open, and I pretty much knew when it happened we were going to end up at the hospital. We didn’t go right away, because he was mostly okay, and it wasn’t enough of an emergency to take all three kids down there and expose them to meningitis or whatever else we could pick up from the waiting room. I waited another hour until the husband got home with the car, and dinner was served, and then we went. He got the cut numbed, cleaned out, and glued up. He also got to play Angry Birds for an hour. All was okay. But could I have prevented that by being less distracted? Not a single bit. Nothing I was doing affected that situation in any way. Except that I let him play. I let him have fun. GOD FORBID.

Should I stop texting while parenting? Shouldn’t I give them my full, undivided attention, with every fibre of my being? I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m more than a mother. I’m a human being, with many interests, with many things on the go at once. These are good kids. They are well taken care of. I am available when they need me. That is enough.

Maybe I should stop parenting while texting. Maybe if I spent more time focusing on my phone I’d stop making spelling mistakes while BBMing. Maybe I wouldn’t mistweet if I’d stop walking and talking to one of my kids and typing all at once.

I’m fully aware that I am much more crotchety about parenting advice than I used to be. Is it age? Is it that I’m on my third baby and you can’t actually tell me how to take care of him? Because BEEN THERE. DONE THAT.

Dear doctors and scientists, let me know when you figure out what’s actually really causing increased injuries in kids since 2007. A real causal link. Then I might actually listen and take you seriously. Otherwise, I’ll be texting at the playground. Like a real bad mother.

(originally posted on my personal blog Where there's a Willer)

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