Is a blog a space for one to vent about whatever is the "bugging me" issue of the day? Or, is it a public venue that encourages free thought, which can be used to inform, encourage, and inspire others? Being a democratic, liberal minded urban dweller in a conservative, public service dominated city of a privileged country, I am choosing to be absolutely politically correct in my response to that question. It is both. And thus, I begin my rant.

I have been wondering for a long time (a.k.a. one or two years) if the benefits of newer and newer communication devices are harming more than helping society. Now, before you start being all defensive and protective about your precious smartphones, think about it. What have you gained from allowing this intruder (oops, sorry about that bias) into your life? Wait, I know. You are able to have instant access to an innumerable amount of trivia at any given time...true. You are able to communicate (?) through writing every move you're making throughout the day to an enormous number of people at the same time... yes, again. And here's the big are able to interrupt any verbal exchange you may be having live with the individual in your presence in order to receive the almighty tidbit that an anonymous (or known) sender has forwarded your way...ahhh fantastic! In the meantime, while tending to the sub-consciously (or not so) grating beeps, you get to make those in your presence feel unworthy of your time. Ok, the rant is over, thank you.

Now for the informative, encouraging and (I hope) inspiring bit. The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, has launched a website in order to provide advice and informative resources to parents about their children. CHEO has done this in response to the whopping 49% increase in mental health visits to their emergency room and an 86% increase in outpatient referrals all in the past two years. What is going on? According to Dr. Phil Ritchie, mental health expert at CHEO, the reasons are two fold. One, there is less stigma in society around mental health issues and thus, parents may be more prone to ask for help. Two, "Intrusive and ever-present technology can create a sense of detachment and increase anxiety in youth". Dr. Ritchie unknowingly has supported my rant when he said, "Every time we reach to our smartphone to respond to an email , text or phone call and we're doing that during family time, are we not somehow giving our kids the message that whatever I just dealt with is more important than whoever is present because I just let it intrude"? 

Furthermore, Dr. Ritchie supported a main tenet of my parenting course for adoptive parents, Changing Your Lenses,  which stresses the critical importance of being present with your children. When kids say "You don't understand me" or "You're not listening to me", they are likely right. But this is something that is so easy for parents to change. Give your child at least 20 uninterrupted minutes a day to talk about him/her. How his/her day was, what happened at school, activities, with siblings, friends, etc. Pay attention to the words and behaviour your child is showing you in the moment. Be there with your child rather than with someone or something else...a.k.a. turn off the smartphone!   Don't worry about the future implications of your child's behaviour of today...focus on the now.  If you want certainty, I can tell you without a doubt, your child needs you today. I can also tell you that the more you encourage security within your child today, the less he/she will need you to do so in the future. 

Being present is the best present you can give your child.