When reading the article, “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World”, I became angered. I felt as though I needed to speak out against the author and challenge the interview. I am not a parent, but I have witnessed close friends and family raise children in modern times. This article seems puts the blame on the parents for exposing children to technology. It is not that this is a bad or negative approach, it is just different. This is shifting from methods that once had children exploring and learning out of natural curiosity. Now that parents have phones in their hands, babies want that instead of whatever toys parents used to hold in front of infants prior to this iGeneration.
I want to talk about continuous partial attention. This is defined by the author, James Fallows, as “the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything” (2013). Linda Stone talks about this is “neither a good or a bad thing” (2013) and for good reason, because there are some things that only require partial attention, such as leisure activities but in other cases, this attention theory simply does not cut it, like driving a car or watching a child. Technology has made us used to this attention strategy, and it is here that things get overlooked. Before technology, when children were left alone, they retreated to a state of “relaxed presence” which the article stated allowed them to explore and be creative out of a place of pleasure and joy. I believe that this is still true. Because the fabric of our society is changing, the way that kids are raised is also changing. Everything in society is taking a turn towards the digital landscape, so why hide that from children? They must be able to learn and adapt to it at some point.
This article also suggests that technology is creating a sort of separation between parents and their children, as if there wasn’t bad parenting before the introduction of technology. While I agree that technology could aid in distancing the parent and the child, it is not the only underlying issue. I also agree with the statement that babies mimic (from a very young age) what they witness. Meaning, any bad habit that Mom and Dad have (ex. cursing, fighting), the baby may pick up on. All of the soundbites that Stone speaks of (“My mommy should look me in the eye when she talks to me” (2013)) cannot solely be blamed on technology.
Good parenting can (and should) involve the integration of technology into a child’s life. Education games on iPads and pieces of technology that are helpful to an infant’s development should be utilized by parents, but they should also be involved and engaged with their child. In a Huffington Post article entitled, “Parenting in the Digital Era” it discusses finding a balance in today’s world of parenting.
Parenting, as is often said, involves giving kids wings to fly and roots on which to stand. Parenting in the digital age can only be more so. The only path ahead involves conscientious and conscious participation, rather than outright techno phobia or philia, to provide an inclusive life where the parents join children and schools in balanced technological engagement that does not compromise on the ability of society in general, to stop and smell the roses. (Ramasubbu, 2015)
This approach is similar to what Newport is talking about in his book Deep Work in his second rule, Embrace Boredom. He discusses this approach that involves scheduling time to give in to distraction, which helps give the mind what it wants but helps you remain in control of your focus. Parents shouldn’t ban their children from using technology, but allow them to use it as a part of their routine. This obviously doesn’t encourage free-range use of the iPad, but doesn’t restrict them from technology completely.
Combining the thoughts of Stone, Newport, and Ramasubbu, there is a certain strategy for taking on parenting in the digital age. It shouldn’t be shunned, but parents should not be passing their addiction to technology onto their baby. With anything, technology should come in moderation. Parents should work with their child to learn and explore new toys (even if they are electronic!) so that their child can be raised in a healthy and loving environment.