A sign posted at a child’s daycare has touched a nerve as it raises a difficult question: When should parents put down their phones? Or, perhaps it’s gone viral because of the deeper question beneath that one: Who has the right to make any kind of request of parents?
“You are picking up your child! Get off your phone!!!!” reads the sign, posted by parent Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz last Friday. “Your child is happy to see you! Are you happy to see your child?? We have seen children trying to hand their parents their work they completed and the parent is on the phone. We have heard a child say ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy…’ and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child. It is appalling. Get off your phone!!”
As of this writing, the post has received more than 1,600 comments and 320,000 shares. Clearly, people have some thoughts about the matter. On the one hand, there are many who agree:
“Yes. So, so, so sad that the person who they are talking to is more important than their child,” wrote Pat Smart.
“Children grow up so quickly. Make the most of when they are little,” Kim Wilkes said.
“So disgusting that a parent needs to be told to pay attention to their child!” Lynn Marshall commented.
A few agreed while also questioning the harsh manner in which the sign was worded. “I like this a lot, however, I think it would be nice to add a ‘please’ to it,” said Lois Poseno.
Then there was the mind your own business camp.
“Maybe it’s work related,” suggested Eboni Shareece McGill. “I mean they do have to pay for their kids to go to your damn daycare. Maybe it’s family related. Someone tried this at my school when my mom came to pick me up. She cursed them out because they were so in her business that they didn’t know to check to see if everything was okay with my grandpa who was sick in the hospital.”
“Maybe [don’t] judge someone’s whole life from the two minutes a day you see them at pick-up,” Michelle Potter wrote. “You don’t know who they’re talking to or what they’re dealing with. If I’m out of the house and on the phone, 99% of the time I’m talking to one of my kids. Should I not answer their call because YOU might judge me? Yeah, that’s going to happen. Right after I don’t breastfeed my infant because you’d prefer she had a bottle.”
Setting aside the notion of whether daycare providers should be making this judgment, there is certainly a case to be made that eventually, parents should probably put down their phones. A survey of 6,000 children from eight different countries found that 54 percent thought their parents spent too much time on their phones, and 32 percent felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by the devices. Another study in Boston found that caregivers who were absorbed with their phones reacted more harshly to misbehaving children. Cutting back on phone time is easier said than done, however. Researchers from the University of Washington who observed parents in Seattle playgrounds found that 44 percent of them felt that they should restrict their phone use while watching their kids but felt unable to do so.
Regardless of how people respond to this sign, it’s quickly become eligible for the annals of preschool parent outrage — along with the likes of the scary-pants complaint, “non-working parent” discrimination, and the suggestion that a mother to use less coconut oil in her daughter’s hair.