Today, we learn about parents who text too much–to the point where they tune out, disengage from, or otherwise ignore their children, frustrating both kids and spouses.
Never mind that, for generations, we’ve had exactly the same imagery surrounding dads who bury themselves in the newspaper at breakfast, or moms who gab on the phone as their kids tear the house apart. The Internet is clearly the thing to blame here, not parents who are either neglectful or overwhelmed. Yes, I spend a lot of time answering e-mails while our son bounces about the room; yes, my wife periodically has to say, with mild exasperation, “can you take him for a few minutes, please, so I can eat?” That is not new. That is called being distracted and busy. We’re all distracted and busy, and yes, our workdays now extend to time at home, slightly enabled by new technologies. End of story. (I’ll admit, though, that the guy who sat next to me on the subway this morning, writing e-mails on his phone as he ignored his kids’ charming questions about the ride, was kind of a jerk.)
Actually, my wife pointed out the most interesting fact in this story, which came in a non sequitur about language acquisition:
The book connects language use at home with socioeconomic status. According to its findings, children in higher socioeconomic homes hear an average of 2,153 words an hour, whereas those in working-class households hear only about 1,251; children in the study whose parents were on welfare heard an average of 616 words an hour.
Do we really all natter on that much? Polysyllabically? Maybe I ought to bury my nose in the paper more.