- The use of technology should be limited.
- Spend time with your children without relying on technology.
Dubai: Time was when mothers and fathers took their infants for a walk, in a stroller or just in their arms, and every visual, aural and olfactory input was a human input or a gift of Nature. Parents cooed to them, described to them the sights and sounds as they passed by them and the baby, as experts who study the minds of little ones will tell you, was comforted, delighted, entertained, informed and educated in some deep-down baby cognition way that actually began back in the womb when as an embryonic entity, it was already absorbing sounds and tones and inflections faster than a dry sponge.
For the parents too, this was a time of discovery - of their skills at managing a new entrant into their world who had definite wants, needs and moods that needed to be understood and met with.
This walk, let’s use it as a metaphor shall we, was a time to begin seeing things anew in life. Not in the jaded, eye-roll, adult kind of way but once again with innocence and fun and joy and a few squeals of delight, sounds that have probably been lost to growing up.
The walk was a time to decode all adult perceptions of the vast, complex and sometimes scary world and make them seem friendly, safe, exciting and fun to a child’s sensorial needs. They needed to nurture these needs with the greatest great care to keep them from dwindling to an underwhelming appetite for life.
The walk, then, was a daily journey of learning for parents too, a course they had signed up for for a lifetime when they decided to bring a child into the world. Unlike a marriage that comes with a pre-nup agreement and keeps things itemised in case of a crash landing, the decision to have children comes with no outward contract. The little beings come into the world with naked vulnerability and they could well be afflicted with it as a state of mind for a lifetime if real parenting takes a backseat to the virtual one.
So, to return to the walk for one last time: here we are in an age of baby strollers equipped with iPad sleeves so parents can be get talking on their phone as they push their way along on a baby’s morning out. And the baby is nose-close with a new world where the sounds and tones and inflections are not coming from mama or papa.
Does this matter?
You don’t have to be an expert to be able to answer that question. In fact, you don’t even have to be a parent.
Legend has it that the great Steve Jobs himself limited his children’s time on the iPad. According to Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson as quoted by a New York Times journalist who interviewed Steve Jobs, dinners at the Jobs’ household were digital-device free and loaded with conversations on books and a range of other topics.
It is perhaps a good note on which to rest my case.