What are we teaching our children? We want them to be attentive and focused. We want them to think creatively and use problem-solving skills. However, every time our phones beep or buzz, we glance to see if it is “something important”. Every time we need an answer to something, we “google it.” What behavior are we modeling for our children?
It has become increasingly difficult to separate our personal and professional lives. With smartphones, we check our emails, texts, social media during all of our waking hours. I bet some of you have even checked your phones in the middle of the night! How can we be expected to turn off our professional selves when the lines have become so blurred? In an effort to check items off of our to-do lists, we respond to emails and texts almost as quickly as we receive them. As a result, it is now expected that responses are delivered ASAP. We have all become increasingly impatient – not so much because we are impatient people, but because we want to get things done.
Unfortunately, this self-imposed and new societal norm of instant gratification is teaching our children to expect action instantaneously, or be bored. I cannot even cook a meal these days without checking facebook while waiting for water to boil or the oven to pre-heat. People standing at bus stops all have their faces turned down to their phones, rather than interacting with one another or simply enjoying the view. Everyone is checking and responding to email, messaging friends, or researching something. Nobody is satisfied just being alone with their thoughts.
I urge you to model mentally healthier behavior for your children. Family is important, work is important, down time is important. This is not only healthier for them, but for you. As I write this column, I am also preparing to take my own advice. Wish me luck!