I was amused at what looked like a bunch of headless humans sitting with a bend in their necks staring at an illuminated object as if their lives depended on it — like ostriches with their heads in the sand, oblivious to the sights and sounds of the environment in which they were seated.
Walking down the street I see children clumped in groups with cords creeping out of their shirts, climbing up and into their ears. They bounce, bob and dance to their own private concert — each one to a different rhythm, occasionally engaging in conversation and eye contact. Our children are following the pied piper down a path that sounds good, and yet can certainly lead to harm.
At a time when we are so connected and in touch with anything almost immediately after it happens, we are so not connected.
Instant access, as a society, allows us to know much more than we need to know — often times much more than we need to know about nothing. Our children are living in a time that we created. A time in which knowing too much has become too much.
We must reconnect them to themselves by reconnecting to ourselves. We must remove the distractions that surround us every minute of the day, a feat that requires sacrifice and planning.
Squeezing in a few times a week where our children disconnect is important. Learning to socialize is important.
Instead of sitting in a restaurant with your children, with all of your technology on the table, leave it in your purse or in your pocket. Or, better yet, in the car. Unless there is some reason that is life-altering or it happens to be your job, an hour or two at a restaurant ain’t gonna hurt nobody.
Ask your child to take the roving cord out of their ear, and do the same. Encourage them to listen to the music that is playing over the sound system at the restaurant. Pick your head up as they tune in, and tune into them.
Talk to your child, let them talk to you. Listen, look at them in the eyes, listen to the sounds of laughter, encourage them to order their own food, be kind to the wait staff and smell the food.
Ask them about their music and what they like, tell them what you did that day, touch their hands, tell them something you like about them.
Don’t lecture. Teach them to say please, thank you and excuse me (and not my bad), by you saying please, thank you and excuse me. Tell them you love them.
Time and connection are what our children will remember. Time and connection are what our children deserve.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom. She is among a select group of local residents with columns in the Tracy Press.