Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Screen Time Versus Quality Time With Your Kids:

How Much Of Their Childhood Are You Giving Facebook?

(Picture courtesy of abbyofftherecord.com)

I’m guilty of it myself.  Sitting in the pick-up line at school, scrolling through my Facebook page on my phone, failing to notice my kids have gotten in the car, and suddenly realizing that I’ve already missed several of the frontpage headlines of their day.  I’ll attend a middle school volleyball match or a beginner’s hip hop class and innocently intend to take a picture, only to find myself missing the winning tip or my 8 year-old’s best-rendition-yet of the “Worm”, too busy scanning my newsfeed for the “what’s seriously not important” from the last ten minutes.

(Picture courtesy of blog.games.com)

At least I’m not Shannon Johnson.  In September of 2011, this Greeley, Colorado woman let her 13 month-old baby drown in the bathtub while she played Café World on Facebook (Roberts).  Earlier that morning, reports say that she had given her son breakfast, navigating her kitchen, maybe dicing a banana or scrambling an egg, and then put him in the bathtub to wash up (Roberts). 

(Photo courtesy of cafeworld.yolasite.com)

Ironically, Café World was a restaurant simulation game, which at its peak had more than 8.6 million players a week (Shaul) who could “slice, chop, saute and bake [their] way to the top of the culinary world!” (Café World).  Johnson did, in fact, make her way to the top of the newsfeed with her 10-year sentence for the fatal neglect of her son.  Almost two years later, Zynga, the gaming company who owned Café World, chose to discontinue the game in July of 2014 due to diminishing numbers of players and revenue (Shaul). 

(Photo courtesy of calbuzz.com)

Born in 1974, I didn’t have to compete with social media for my parents’ attention.  A good Sunday sports page in my father’s hands or my mother’s most recent library acquisition, maybe.  But, a handheld device complete with the ability to message a high school sweetheart or to peek at pictures of classmates who had lost hair or gained weight?  Nope.  They had to wait for twenty-year class reunions to roll around for that.  I had their full divided attention.

In an article entitled “Calling All Moms:  Get The Heck Off Facebook!,” Megan O’Neill interviews Gerry Graf regarding his partnership with MomFilter.com to promote a shared vision to “encourage moms to log off Facebook…at least for a little while…and spend some time with their kids” (O’Neill).  Together, collaborators launched the campaign called “The Log Off,” and produced a video displayed at thelogoff.org and linked to YouTube.  The YouTube version has had 148,717 views since May 2011, while “Maybe The Best Funny Dogs Compilation Ever” video uploaded the same day has drawn 2,571,204 viewers. 

The campaign is falling on distracted ears.  With a look at recent headlines, child neglect and the internet seem a joint venture of their own.  While parents aren’t exactly logging off the internet in droves, some are totally unplugging…from their parenting.


Works Cited

"Café World." Facebook. N.p., 24 May 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
“Maybe The Best Funny Dogs Compilation Ever." YouTube. YouTube, 11 May 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.
"Mommy Facebook Song." YouTube. YouTube, 11 May 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.
 O'Neill, Megan. "Calling All Moms: Get The Heck Off Facebook!" SocialTimes. N.p., 11 May 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
Roberts, Michael. "Shannon Johnson Gets 10 Years after Infant Son Drowned in Bath as She Played Facebook Game." Denver Westword. Scott Tobias, 18 Apr. 2011. Web. S Feb. 2015.

Shaul, Brandy. "Zynga to Close Cafe World and CoasterVille on July 22." SocialTimes. N.p., 30 May 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

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