I have spent half of my life in front of a screen. I don’t doubt it. Whether it was a television screen in my childhood and adolescence or a computer screen since I had my first computer when I turned ten or even before, when I would play at my mother’s job trying to make shapes out of letter on those blue screens. I have been around technology more than many, even those who can’t stop staring at and clicking on their phones now. I have witnessed the transition between computers being an oddity and portable devices becoming essential for many. There is still a gap between those who have their iPod, their iPad, their twitter account and those who don’t even know how to setup an email, let alone what the internet is, but technology has become such a big part of my life that it’s sometimes hard for me to disconnect.
I know this because my daughter is the one that has forced me to look at my dedication to the virtual world with caution. There are times when she can watch her television shows and I can check my Facebook on my phone or my computer, but there are times where she will angrily shut my laptop screen down, almost crushing my fingers, or she will start typing away just to get me to pay attention to her show with her, and that’s when it dawns on me that she wants to share that moment with me, she doesn’t want to be alone in the room with a distant mother, she needs me to play an active role. I feel completely ill equipped to be as engaging as I should be, having spent more time typing away and interacting with my screen than with real people. My husband also complains from time to time. “I forgot that when the computer is on, I don’t exist,” he’ll say.
I can read articles about how to deal with a toddler’s tantrums, but I have to remember that I have to interact with my toddler too! As hard and as daunting as it seems to me. She has no “like” button and certainly no “mute” button, but she certainly knows how to push my buttons. However, she is also very sweet and I just need to acknowledge that, acknowledge her, and turn off the power button on technology… from time to time. Ok, maybe a little more than I do. Ok, maybe a LOT more.