Last Updated on March 11, 2024

It is odd that a simple “life scene” that played out before my eyes in a doctor’s office waiting room would leave me near tears.

As I entered the waiting room I checked myself in, and without much thought I walked to the far portion of the waiting room and sat in a chair to the far left. The only other people in that portion of the room were sitting directly in front of me.

My heart immediately warmed as I quickly glanced at the young mother, her hair in a messy pony tail, her outfit casual with flip flops – my kinda mom! Sitting next to her was a four”ish”-year-old girl in equally casual attire and on the floor in front of them was a baby, sitting in a car seat carrier.

It was then that my now-observant eyes narrowed and my head tipped a bit sideways because I noticed the baby was totally disengaged. Sort of staring in the direction of his mother and sister but with a blank expression.

My eyes followed his gaze and what I beheld literally made my jaw drop. This sweet mother and her young daughter were both staring at iPhones that were mere inches from their faces.

And it went on like that while we dutifully waited in our waiting room.

The scene before my eyes never changed.

I found myself propelled back in time, some 16 years earlier and remembered similar visits to doctors’ offices with my own children. I remember taking books with me and reading them to my young daughter, who was quick to show the pictures in the book to her baby brother.

I remember conversations, explaining where we were, why we were there and what was about to happen. I remember interacting with others in the waiting room and my daughter engaging with a smile or a bashful wave. I remember playing “I spy with my little eye” and learning every inch of the color scheme of waiting rooms – I even recall singing, “Where is thumper?” to peels of laughter.

As the past blurred back into a memory and the scene before me came back into focus, my heart grew heavy.

Is this what we have come to now? The devices affixed to our hands have become our primary choice for connection in the course of our day.

It has been a few years since I wrote about seeing the toddler in the airport, his eyes focused on a tiny screen and never seeing the bus, the tram or the little old lady who was trying to catch his eye as we went from one terminal to the next.

Granted in either case I do not know the circumstance of the moment.  And sharing my observation is not an attempt to judge others, but a cry to you, mom, to be aware.

As parents we need to instruct and guide our children to be engaged in the world around them. The sights, sounds, experiences and people they interact with daily do matter, and promote healthy growth in your children.

A child’s day should be filled with interactions and involvement, with each being a learning experience and an opportunity for growth and expansion. And more than that, a child’s day has the capacity to bring simple joy to those who observe the child. Children by nature provide hope and share uninhibited love with others – that’s what kids do for humanity.

Unless of course they are staring at a screen, in which case a waiting room becomes a dull boring wait for those of us waiting.

Do you see it? Do you get it? Or am I just a dinosaur?


{Editor’s Note: Tracey shared this wisdom with moms on MomLife Today back in 2013…more and more studies are now revealing that anxiety is on the rise in children and adults due to too much screen time … we encourage you to make a strong stance on less screens and more interaction with your precious children!}

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  1. No you’re not a dinasour ( or maybe I am too) but I think you nailed it right on the head. Thank you for the eye opener because even though my children are older & I’m a brand new grandma, I must say that this takes place in our household more often than I would like to admit. This did not take place when my kids were younger because i would color or read with them. Sadly things have changed & not necessarily for the better. Will try to do better from here out.

    1. Thank you Lorie for your encouragement, for sharing and being vulnerably transparent. I hope and pray we can, in love, remind each other as moms to engage with our children, others children and our grandchildren! Knowledge is the beginning of understanding. Share your convictions with others…and together we can help moms remember that every MOMent counts! Blessings to u!

  2. A couple of years ago, I grieved when I saw a mom on her phone while riding her bike with her child in a little caboose attachment and he was staring at a computer screen which had a “B” on it.. I’m sure she thought, “Oh he is learning while we ride the bike”, I thought, “Oh he is missing the trees, and cars and sites and sounds of this ride”. You are right that these moms do not realize what they, their children or others are missing in the way of interaction, learning, relating.

    1. Thanks Jennie for sharing your thoughts…knowing someone else has seen this and been grieved is a great reason for us to share our observations with others to effectuate change! We can gently, lovingly share these observations. I just think some moms are simply unaware of the electronic connection, causing a person to person disconnect and lost opportunities. An enthusiastic suggestion may lead to ALL of us being more aware of what we allow to distract us and then maybe we can work towards more MOMents!

  3. Unfortunately, your example is not unlike my adopted daughter’s early years in an orphanage. Due to lack of face to face interaction, her speech skills were severely affected, not knowing how to imitate the act of speech. It has taken years to gain those skills, and it is still a struggle at times. Yes, moms, our kids need our faces!

  4. Julie McGrath says:

    Thank you Tracey for this wonderful reminder! I’m determined to keep filling our home with music, books, cards, boardgames and all the things that keep us interacting and growing! I want my home to be filled with laughter and joy! These screens keep us in our own private world, and although they are engaging, they don’t bring out the beauty of human iinteracton and the sweetness of exchanging smiles and everything that makes us human! Keep sharing the treasures from a few short years ago when things were healthier and a whole lot more simple. Blessed by your wisdom and eyes that can see what’s really happening in our time!

  5. I LOVE this! It really confirmed in me something God has already been speaking to me about getting off my phone and engaging with my kids. God has recently prompted me to step outside of my shell and start a blog. I had the opportunity to hear you speak at MomLife boot camp last year and am so excited to get involved in the blog world so I can hear more from you! Blessings, Rachael