We may think that kids have a natural fascination with phones. Really, children have a fascination with whatever Mom and Dad find fascinating. If they are fascinated by the flowers coming up in the yard, that’s what the children are going to find fascinating. And if Mom and Dad can’t put down the device with the screen, the child is going to think, That’s where it’s all at, that’s where I need to be!
I interviewed kids between the ages of 7 and 12 about this. They said things like “My mom should make eye contact with me when she talks to me” and “I used to watch TV with my dad, but now he has his iPad, and I watch by myself.”
Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.
Wise words indeed from LINDA STONE, who worked on emerging technologies at Apple and then Microsoft Research in the 1980s and ’90s. Stone was being interviewed by James Fallows for The Atlantic magazine. Read the full text of the interview here: "The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World".