Hello. My name is Siobhan. And I’m addicted to TapFish.
I stupidly downloaded the virtual aquarium game onto my "smart phone" thinking it would give the kids something to do while we were driving (besides pestering me about going the wrong way or being lost all together).
However, my virtual conscience kept me up late at night, feeding the kids’ "fish" so they wouldn’t go belly up. I even found myself just visiting neighboring "tanks" to see how the other wannabe pisciculturalists are fairing. Sometimes I feed their fish, too.
"Did ya see me?" she squeals, the excitement of whatever it was I missed bubbling into a froth. "Did ya see? Did ya see?"
No, honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t see, I was feeding your fish. Can you do it again?
But the magic is over. No matter how she sits or spins or contorts, it’s obvious from her expression there is no recreation possible.
"Oh!" She says with disappointed tone. "That’s too bad."
I wish I was making up what she said next. Without a hint of malice and without ever having heard a single stanza, she channeled the spirit of Harry Chapin to lecture me …
"You’re missing everything. And you know, someday, when I’m a grown woman and you want my attention, I probably will be too busy for you. That’s how it is you know."
The words sting.
I flip through the journal she’s been keeping for summer homework. She’s drawn colorful pictures and written mostly legible entries about her activities over the past two months:
"We went to the park … I climbed the BIG jungle gym."
"I went to the pool and swam underwater!"
"I made snow angels in the sand. It was funny."
"I saw bees at the beekeeper’s house! I didn’t even get stung."
None of the entries were things she’d done with me. All the really memorable stuff she experienced over her summer vacation she did with friends and baby sitters and grandparents while I was working.
That stung, too.
I have to admit, however painful, that as a working mom whose desk has magically teleported to her cell phone, distractions are ever-present. I spend so much more of my time with my head bowed to a hand-held device. Even when I turn it off, it’s never truly disconnected.
The fact is, whenever it’s in my hand, I feel compelled to check on it more than I’ve ever felt compelled to check on the kids. So even when I’m here, I’m not really there.
I know I’m not alone. Research consistently being churned out rubs our noses in the mess we’re creating with technology overload. Technological addiction isn’t debated as much as it is denied: “I’m not ignoring my kids. I’m just not bending to their whims. I can stop anytime I like.”
Yet it just seems like a sign of the apocalypse how video games are being designed to help us get our expanding rear-ends off the couch.
I’m not casting the first stone but I certainly know that if I don’t do something soon, I’ll be facing a chip off the old block.
"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."
"Didn’t you hear me? I’ve been calling your name for like a hundred years."
"I’m sorry. I was reading an email. What did you say?"
"Can I play with your iPhone now? I have to feed my fish."