|Sam when he was 1yrs old|
When our kids were young I would say they LOVED their dummy. For a number of years they thought they needed it to keep them calm, safe, or maybe that is just what we wanted them to believe. They had cute names for it and we just wouldn't go anywhere without it. When they were very young I would tie it to their shirts, so when it fell out it wouldn't get lost, or dirty and was protected, ready to be inserted when necessary. Now this may say more about my parenting than the kids’ dependence on a dummy to help them feel safe and calm.
Of course we knew it wasn't something that they needed or that was good for them in the long run, and it didn't take long before we devised a strategy to help them to be weaned off it. We knew it would eventually stop them from talking, developing their social skills and being able to communicate well with others, as well as being seen as a grown up rather than being a baby. For Georgia in particular, this was never going to stop her from talking, but she did love to be pacified at times when emotions were out of control. Georgia was very quick to substitute her thumb, which cannot be taken away, so we persevered with the dummy longer, so she didn't get dependent on her thumb, which is always accessible.
We got over that stage of life and now that my kids are 16 and 19, I think they have not been too scarred by having a dummy when they were young. At least, I thought so, until I saw the visual of my 19 year old, coming out of his room this morning, still half asleep, in his “pj’s,” walking towards the toilet with his phone in his hand. It reminded me of when he was little and walking around with his “nummies” in his mouth.
Funny how the phone has become the modern dummy. And this is not just for children. This is any age. I see people of all ages walking everywhere with their phones in their hands, not being able to put them down or feel they can function without them.
They have become our modern pacifier. I know my children say I am a “techniphobe", but I don't believe that is true as I see great value in the phone. But it is important for us to be able to make a call (see the pun) when our phone has become our pacifier, so much so that we begin to disengage in life around us. Technology is a wonderful tool when we are in control of it, when we use it for good. But like anything, there is the potential for a dependence and distraction that is unhealthy.
I knew when my kids were young, that a dummy served its purpose for a time and within reason, but we needed to eventually get control of the use of it, not the other way round. For a child, when a dummy hinders development, communication and the social ability to be able to relate to others then I think we would all acknowledge that this is not healthy. Children very rarely go to school with a dummy. By the age of 5 it is not something they use in public. They may still need help calming at night, but this is a process they are learning to get personal control over.
|I took this in a cafe just recently|
In 2016, the phone has become that for many people, and not just in private. It seems socially acceptable to have a phone in just about every aspect of life, always on, always accessible. I believe it is getting to the point where this is hindering communication, social relationships and for some their own personal development. This is ironic, as the phone was originally designed to be a tool of communication. But, it is very sad to see the disengagement I feel l am continually fighting face to face with people, as I compete with the phone for people’s attention. I am talking about when our phones become our pacifier, our escape, our place to retreat to, our main connection points, our space fillers. And this is not even addressing what we are actually looking at when we go there. That is a whole other blog. At least with a dummy for a child, it actually takes them to a “zen” state, a “dummed” down space, where they simply calm down, as opposed to what we today are doing on our phones in these spaces of escape.
But to stay on track, like in most things, we simply need to have self-control and be willing to ask ourselves: “when has our phone become our dummy?”
Here are some times that I check myself as to whether my phone has got too much power over me:
- When we are with friends around a table and we would rather be engaged on our phone than the person across the table from us.
- When we feel we can’t go to sleep unless our phone is beside us, ON.
- When the first thing we do when we get up in the morning is check our “notifications”.
- When we are in a meeting and feel we just have to have our phone beside us (on silent) so we don't miss that ting, ping or message.
- When we panic because we have not sent out our snapchat story for the day.
- When we feel an experience is not complete unless it has been shared on Social Media.
- When we feel naked or incomplete if we have lost our phone, or left it at home.
- When we go to a place that gets no reception and we start to shake with anxiety because we are not connected.
- When we are spending time with God and we just have to answer the phone.
- Do I control my phone use or does it control me?
You might have some other good checks that I have missed. I’d love to hear them, but most important, are you willing to ask the question?