Your interview touched such a chord with me. I am a children's librarian working in a very busy public library that serves an affluent suburban area in Northern Virginia. One of the mandates of a children's librarian is to encourage the development of early literacy in toddlers and preschoolers. The most important way we do this is through library storytimes where we read beautiful and compelling picture books, sing songs, do fingerplays, play rhythm instruments, dance with scarves, etc. In the ten years I have been doing this I have seen a dramatic change in the behavior of parents. They still bring their little ones to storytime in huge numbers but instead of interacting with their children and helping them do all the activities, they now sit there with their smart phones. I look out over the sea of faces and see adults texting, checking email, playing solitaire, etc. The other thing I see, which I find greatly ironic, is the obsession with taking photos of their kids with their smart phones. So, they can't actually interact with the child yet they feel the need the record the moment and post the photo on their facebook page or blog. The end result is that the kids are not the same---they aren't getting the most out of their library experience and they've turned into little performers in front of the camera to get their parents attention. The other day at work I suddenly realized that the noise level in the children's area had become a cacophony of noise. There was a kid at the coloring table throwing crayons against the wall. There was another toddler at the computer louding and destructively banging the mouse. There was another child pulling books by the handfuls out of the shelf and throwing them on the floor. I thought, where are the parents? Then I realized that each of these kids had a parent right there but EVERY SINGLE ONE had their face buried in their phone and were completely unaware of what their kids was doing. It's a sad situation that I feel will have lasting consequences for this generation of children.
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