Love and attention and cell phones

I'll never forget sitting at Fairway Cafe in New York early one Saturday morning. As I waited for my breakfast to arrive, I watched a sad scene play out at a table nearby. A Dad sat across from his about one-year-old son, cell phone in hand, intently focused on whatever compelling story or email or video he’d found there. I observed the boy look up at his Dad expectantly and each time he saw Dad still entranced by his device, the child put his head down. When their breakfast arrived, I was hopeful Dad would put down his phone, so he could connect with his son. Sadly, that didn't happen. Once he'd completed the task of setting out a placemat and carefully moving the dishes about so his son could feed himself, Dad dove back into his phone, only looking up to gather another forkful of food for himself. When Mom arrived and took a seat next to the child, ever-the-optimist, my hope was renewed. She greeted her son warmly and had a quick word with her partner, as the boy gazed up at her adoringly. I thought, "Finally, he'll get some attention." But, no. Mom picked up her phone [...]

2021-06-17T12:16:29-07:00By |

Digital Device Use in the Age of Coronavirus

Several years ago, I was enjoying a solo breakfast upstairs at Fairway Café in New York City, surreptitiously observing people at the other tables and conjuring up their life stories. It was a father and son of about 18 months who captured my attention from across the room. They were sitting opposite each other at a four-top next to a huge window overlooking bustling Broadway below. The father laid out a placemat in front of his son in preparation for their meal. Then he picked up his cell phone and fell down the digital rabbit hole, lifting his gaze only every few minutes. Whenever the father looked up, his son leaned toward him, trying to connect, and failed every time. The server arrived with their food and I became hopeful, thinking that finally, they’d connect over their yogurt, and bagel and lox. But the father’s fascination with his phone continued unabated and the two ate in silence; together, but very much apart. I’d been painfully observing for about 20 minutes when the mother arrived and sat down next to her son, who wiggled with delight to see her. My renewed sense of hope quickly dried up as I observed her [...]

2020-04-26T13:32:21-07:00By |
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