YRPI walk four or five times a week in Yorba Regional Park, one of the gems of the Orange County Regional Park System.   It is one of the places I will miss most when we move to Utah late this year.   During the week, the park is sparsely populated so I get to pay attention mostly to the natural beauty of the place, the lakes and the greenery and the assorted fauna that call it home.  There are ducks and squirrels and geese, hawks and osprey, herons and terns circling above the lakes.   Yes, and the small cadre of mostly older humans who inhabit the park on weekdays.   On weekends, particularly once spring has arrived, the park is crowded with picnickers and partiers, some of them large family reunions and my walking pastime becomes people watching.  I will admit that my sometimes curmudgeonly nature makes people watching more of a mixed bag (as we used to say).  I can find myself smiling at the joys a huge family has in being together or grumping at the behavior of certain individuals, whether it be someone playing music so loud it can be heard in Santa Ana, a bunch of adolescents annoying the ducks, or people leaving trash around.   In my heart of hearts, I know that the music hurts no one, the ducks will be fine and the park staff will be by to clean up the mess.

Saturday, as I approached a large reunion in one of the larger pavilions that are distributed through the park, I notice a young father sitting in front of aphone guy.jpg stroller, leaning close to a toddler.   I smiled because it is so common these days to see parents and even grandparents out with their children but absorbed in their mobile devices.   The children may even be looking at their own devices, as if that makes it any better.   Then I got closer and found he was looking at his phone.  Damn!

According to The School of Total Education, The important thing is that your child has 100% of your attention for some time every day. The amount they need will vary depending on their personality, what is happening in their world — but you can’t be vaguely there, or thinking of what you have to do later in the day or worrying about some work-relatedi robot or domestic issue. If you don’t do this, there will be a deficit, dissatisfaction, a yearning that will need to be fulfilled at a later time.   Can’t you imagine a USA Today headline, maybe 30 years from now?  High Depression Rates in Young Adults Attributed to Parental Attention Deficit Disorder (PADD).   Or ADD Rampant in Those Raised by Phone Obsessed Adults.   Who knows … maybe by then children will be raised by robots programmed to give them enough attention.   Hint:  If you think that will be a good thing, watch the film I, Robot.

The point is, pay attention to the kids, people.  My generation didn’t have mobile devices to distract us and we still managed to raise a lot of screwed up kids.

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