Today This Irish Girl asked to go to the local playground. I have to admit – I pretty much hate the playground. I use every tactic I can to divert their attention whenever we drive by. Today I guess I was in a good mood. As she ran at speed from the car it was obvious she couldn’t believe her luck.
She’ll be 8 in September.
Eight is like a proper kid age, not a child age.
The playground was empty except for two boys sitting on the swings each in a peculiar hunched over posture that looked almost painful. On closer look both boys were engrossed in their phones on their laps.
Sitting there on the swings – not swinging.
I can’t say for certain how old these boys were. Older than 8 but not teenagers. Not even preteens I am guessing. Kids. Kids who should have been running, laughing…playing.
For 45 minutes myself and This Irish Girl played together. ( I said I was in a good mood!)
Conscious of the two boys entirely plugged in I sat my phone on the bench alone and chased This Irish Girl up and down the park. I revelled in her laughter at my feeble attempts on the monkey bars. We laid together on the bucket swing watching the clouds float by.
All the while I kept an eye on the two boys sitting on the swings hunched over – not swinging – not talking to each other.
Eventually This Irish Girl shared her frustration with me that she wanted a turn on the swings so we went over and asked for a turn. The boys were well-mannered and obliging – both jumping up to offer their swings – these were good kids. As This Irish Girl and I swung together the two boys moved off. I stared willing them to play or at least engage in friendly banter – instead they moved to the bench and assumed hunched posture side – by – side.
So many thoughts were going through my mind…
Do those boys need smartphones? I know in today’s age there is great comfort in the ‘safety’ of older ‘independent’ kids having phones but was it worth the loss of playing at the park.
What examples are we setting at home with screen time? We are pretty strict (or at least try to be). No tablets on school days, limits over holidays, not in bedrooms – the usual recommendations on screen time. Recently though the kids were gifted ancient iPads from their older cousins. They’ve both taken to texting and sending video messages /pictures to family in the U.S. I love that this is helping foster these relationships but after today I am reconsidering it all.
Nearly an hour later we left for home and the boys sat there still.
As we walked to the car This Irish Girl grabbed my hand. (oh sweet girl please don’t stop taking my hand).
‘Mom I don’t think those boys were having any fun at the park, that’t too bad.’
Yep sweetheart it really is too bad…(and please don’t hate me when you ask for a phone because you won’t get one).