"When your grandparents were kids, they probably did not have color television," I said to a class of fifth graders.
A blank stare or a WHAT?! bounced off the walls -- absolutely no frame of reference for a pre-smartphone era.
Digital natives, that's what they're called.
From infancy, they know what a smartphone is.
From toddler-hood, they know some basic functions of the device.
From school age on up, they know more than we do.
Sometimes when I lay my daughter down at night, I wonder if we looked up at each other enough that day. Did I look in her eyes enough? Does she know how much I value our conversations? Does she know how much I value what she has to say? Does she know that she, her dad, and our puppy fill my heart with such immense joy, I put the overflow into cookies? Did I look at her enough to let her know all of those things?
Did I look up enough? Or did I spend my day looking down at a screen? My generation of parents have "screen time" in their vocabulary, which pertains to the amount of time children spend in front of a screen. But what about the parents' screen time? Studies have shown that kids feel sad, ignored and dismissed when their parents are on their phone too much.
Did I listen to my husband when he told me about his most recent flight? Did I let my puppy give me kisses and engage in the interaction? A study out of Japan suggests that oxytocin--a happy chemical--is released for dog and human when we (dog and person) make eye contact with one another. Did I listen to my daughter’s stories and respond, letting her know I hear her and that I will always be there to hear her? Or did I text too much, scroll through Instagram too much?
I need to look UP. Leave the phone in the other room, put it on silent, be okay not answering. Just because we can doesn't mean we should.
The giggles and the grins and the WHY MOMMYs and the crying, it’s all worth looking up for. I don’t want my life filled with a screen. I want my life filled with memories. I want my life filled with people. I want my life filled with the love of those who love me and those whom I love. I want a life well lived, not a life well watched.