Saturday, July 12, 2008

Child of the Screen

I went out to dinner this evening and, while waiting to be seated, I noticed a couple at a table enjoying their dinner. Also with them at the table was a little girl of about 4, presumably their daughter.

Was this child eating? Was she talking with her parents? Was she listening to them? Was she observing the world around her? No. She was watching a Disney animated movie on the portable DVD player her parents set up for her on the table.

What a sad case of yet another child of the screen. Rather than teaching this little girl how to socially interact, behave at a restaurant, listen or observe, she is learning to be entertained by a screen, while her parents ignore her. Then when she is a teenager they will complain that they have communication issues.

I grant that there are times of use for a portable DVD player. Perhaps on a long drive while on vacation, a break from, "Are we there yet?" is in order. But at a restaurant? What strange behavior, yet is this kind of thing becoming the norm? If so, how sad.


Nick Milne said...

One of the more troubling features of the ongoing rush towards miniaturization of complex technologies is that it will inevitably lead to those technologies finding their way into places and situations where they really have no business being.

Of particular concern, as you note, is the omnipresence of artificial entertainment. How many have stopped to consider the actual impact of being subjected to loudspeaker'd music in almost every public venue? It's inescapable. They play it in banks (to take one example). Why do they play it in banks? There is no good answer.

Anyway, I should mention also that you've been tagged here, if you feel like participating. If not, please forgive me for singling you out.

Robert Velarde said...

Good insights, Nick. Your post inspired me to write a post about fear of dead air. Incidentally, after posting about dead air, I stopped by the Denver Seminary library this afternoon and came across Manifesto for Silence in the new books section. It looks like an interesting read about the need for creating and maintaining silence, noise as pollution, and more.

Thanks for tagging my site. I'll take a look at your link.

Enbrethiliel said...


How very Fahrenheit 451 . . .

BJ the Tornado said...


My wife and I saw a similiar thing when we were out to eat with our son last year (Toby, he was about 2.5 then). A couple a few tables away had a portable DVD player with a cartoon going for their kiddo.
It was sad. The funniest thing was Toby watching them in utter confusion as to what was going on.
Yes, it can be difficult to appease and corral a young child in a restaurant, but give me a break!