This post originally appeared on The Disney Gals blog.
Being a dad in today’s world is much different than it was twenty or even ten years ago. Not only do we have the regular duties of providing for our families and raising our children, but we have to carefully navigate the diminishing line between work and family life. We now have to monitor the online reputations and social networks of ourselves, and those of our children.
Modern technological conveniences can actually be very time-consuming and distracting. As a the website coordinator for an independent school, I am responsible for the school’s website and social media channels, ensuring that the school, students, and staff are portrayed in a positive manner online. This leaves me checking my work e-mail and social updates and mentions on my iPhone far more than I need to. Even on the weekends.
My wonderful wife has been asking me for months to spend a day 100% disconnected and unfortunately, I have yet to do that. While I do not go around answering my cell any time it rings, I do, however, stay connected more than I need to. I will never abandon my kids during playtime or my family during dinner to take a call or check my e-mail, but I will admit that I need to spend less time working when I leave the office.
Although my bad tech habits may keep me from giving my family my complete and undivided attention at times, I am able to use today’s tools for good. Our oldest son loves to read interactive stories on my iPad and play educational games that my wife has on her iPod touch. Some of his favorites are from Disney Junior. We’ve downloaded numerous learning apps that help him recognize his letters and practice his reading and comprehension skills. And the best part is that he thinks he is playing games while he’s actually learning.
Educational apps and games are great, but our children still learn the most from us. They eat up the knowledge we share with them at home, and are eager to hear what Daddy and Mommy will teach them next. I love seeing our 1-year-old learn new things, mimicking his older brother and our 6-month-old daughter just as interested in what her brothers are doing. The way we share William and Elisabeth’s milestones with our family and friends is very different from when Robert was born. I share most of my pictures and the children’s milestones on Facebook and Instagram, which makes it super easy for our relatives to keep up with our growing family. Social networks like these allow me to stay connected with my friends and their families as well.
With all of the fun and benefits today’s technology brings, I do think it is imperative for modern dads to completely disconnect sometimes. Turn off the smartphone, power down your laptop, and just spend good, quality time with your family. Disconnect this weekend or sometime very soon, and spend more time hugging the ones you love.