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Texting: Is It Dangerous for Children?
How Annoying are Your Kids?
Life is full of stress as it is, but add just one child to the mix and you double or triple the stress level. No matter what you do, there they are, in the way, asking questions, making messes, being too loud, or causing you to lose sleep. Sometimes you just want to pull your hair out or crawl into a hole and hide.
But how would you really feel if all of it just went away? What if that annoying mess was not there to wake you up at the crack of dawn and spill their cheerios and milk all over the place?
Keep that thought in mind, take a deep breath, and respond patiently the next time something happens, because the reality of it all is that you never know what can happen from one minute to the next.
How Safe are Your Children?
Just recently, I went to the fun park for a child's birthday party, and a scene unfolded there that left me reeling. You would think that an indoor fun park, with all those attendants, gates and parents would be a very safe place for little kids to run around and play. And it probably is. But on this day, a four-year-old nearly ended up leaving with a stranger,and her parents were the biggest part of the problem.
They barely noticed as she nearly walked out of the enclosure with a perfect stranger, and she very possibly could have been gone from their lives forever. Their behavior towards her and towards each other could have ended up being behind a very sad story on the evening news. If so, viewers might have been left wondering whether there was any place left that was safe to take their kids to play. And they might never know the reason.
Text a Friend or Pay Attention to Your Kids?
You hear a lot about how dangerous texting and driving is, but how about texting and parenting? If you knew you were putting your kids in danger, would you put your phone down? Why is it so hard to turn off the phone, even for just a little while and pay attention to your kids? What would really be so bad about it if you stopped texting everyone for just a little while? On the other hand, if your child disappeared while you were texting your girlfriend, would it be worth it?
These are the questions I wanted to ask the young lady at the fun park. She looked like she was in her mid 20's and was dressed fashionably. Her two adorable girls, ages 5 and 4, were also dressed nicely, and were clean and healthy looking. They were running around playing, just like all the other kids in the play area for small children. And like a lot of the other mothers, this young lady was on her phone, texting furiously. It was obvious from her body language and expressions that she was highly agitated and involved in a dramatic text war, and equally obvious she was just as unaware of the drama that was unfolding right in front of her.
Basic Child Care 101 - Thirst
For those who are unaware of it, an interesting phenomenon occurs when children run around for a long time playing. It is called thirst. It is strikingly similar to what happens to adults when they have been very active. Thirst is a strong desire for something to drink, and it can cause a great deal of discomfort. If left unchecked, it poses a health risk.
The combination of an unresponsive parent and a thirsty child is what led to this little girl possibly never being seen by her parents again. Clad in a lavender shirt and pink leggings, her wispy blond hair clinging to the moisture on her cheeks, this cute little tyke was obviously thirsty. After her requests for a drink were ignored several times by her mother and a male companion who had a soda in his hand, this child started walking up to people she didn't even know, and asking for a drink.
Who Would Your Child Walk Off With?
Child Abductions In the U.S.
- A child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds
- approximately 2,000 children are reported missing per day
- Approximately 24% of kidnappings are "stranger" kidnappings
- Stranger kidnapping victims are primarily female, and the event is usually associated with sexual assault.
- Out of 10,000 children reported missing, approximately 20% are not found alive
Statistics found on parents.com.
How Could a Child Disappear in Seconds?
Within just a few seconds, the little girl had found someone willing to help her out. A girl of about 12, apparently unaware of the implications of her actions, agreed to take the tot to the water fountain. The attendant on the gate kindly opened it for the pair.
Fortunately, at the last moment, the teenager had the presence of mind to ask the little girl where her mother was. When the question was brought to the mom, I observed her behavior. She immediately looked angrily at the little girl, the teenager, and the male companion, who she smacked in the arm and said something to. Guess what she did immediately after that?
Took her daughter to the water fountain herself? Nope. Her next action was to look back down at her phone and start texting again. What could have possibly been more important than her beautiful little daughter at that moment in time?
What happened next was even more shocking.
How Angry do Your Kids Make You?
Sadly, the drama did not end there. This young mother, while she seemed aware that the situation was out of control, also seemed to be looking for someone else to blame. She angrily fussed at the little girl and told her she should not be asking just anyone for a drink. Then, she turned to her male companion, who had a soda bottle in his hand. She blamed him, saying he could have given the girl a drink. In a way this is true but wouldn't you think as a mother she should have either brought drinks along or taken her to get a drink?
His response was inaudible, but the gist of it was that he didn't want to share his soda. Shocking, isn't it? But that is not all. The mother basically shooed the child off and went right back to her texting. At this, the little one began to cry for a drink, and her mother turned in frustration to her man and demanded that he let her have a drink. The child hesitated, then went to him and in exasperation, he agreed to let her have "a little bit", as he put it.
Apparently he really meant that, based on what happened next.
Your Opinion Counts
How does texting affect your parenting?
When is Being A Mother Too Much?
The child stood there, looking a little uncertain, as the man explained in a grumpy tone that she could have a little soda. He handed the bottle to her, but just before she could get a sip, he snatched the bottle away. "Don't put your whole mouth on it!" he growled. She blinked, complied, and finally was allowed to get a drink. Her thirst was very apparent as she began to gulp the soda down, but she didn't get very far.
Suddenly, in anger, the man jerked the bottle out of her mouth, spilling soda all over her shirt. The girl just stood there looking confused and hurt, and grabbed the front of her shirt. At this, the annoyed mother was shocked out of her texting once again, and asked the man why he had done that. His reply was that he had told the girl she could have a little bit.
Apparently, this was the last straw for the mom. Her eyes flashed and fingers flew as she angrily finished a text, then began tossing the girls' shoes and jackets at them and got up to leave. The man followed sheepishly, clutching his precious soda bottle.
I watched them go, my mind filled with questions like, "I wonder what the car ride home will be like?" "Does she ever stop texting?" and "What kind of home-life do these people have?"
Does Your Child Wonder if You Care?"
The lessons that can be taken from this unfortunate little girl's situation are innumerable. Along with all of the advantages of modern technology come the unintended consequences. Distraction is a big one.
Many burning questions come to mind. Should parents put their phones away when they are in a public place with their kids? Is it really possible to pay attention to a child and be on the phone? And what about that soda? Shouldn't he have just let the little girl get a good drink? Couldn't he get himself another soda later?
I leave you with this. It may be easy to judge the behavior of this mother and her male companion, but what would be more beneficial would be to ask ourselves how we measure up.
What are your thoughts?