Now Screening: Daily Life and the Fantastic Mrs Fox

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rachel Browne, writing in Fairfax’s Lady Pages, takes issue with Mem Fox’s (quite right) criticism of parents who use their iPhones or iPads as babysitters and child-minders, seeing such attitudes as part of a capitalist, conservative conspiracy:

It’s worth noting that Fox’s observations come as she prepares for a national tour to promote her new book, Baby Bedtime, and she wouldn’t be the first author to court controversy when there is a new release to flog…

It seems to me that Fox has bought into a conservative agenda which shames good parents for making “bad” choices such as letting their kids spend time on the smartphone or placing them in childcare.

Perhaps the issue is not so much whether smartphones, tablets, childcare and other things that occasionally liberate parents from parenting are tearing the fabric of society apart. Perhaps the real issue is a culture which seems hyper-critical of any parent who doesn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations of people like Fox.

Well, reasonable people can disagree, though it is hard to see what is so “conservative” about reading books with one’s offspring. Politics aside, it is pretty depressing to see whole families sitting at restaurants staring into their screens, not conversing or interacting or doing much more than grunting when the food comes, but that’s another issue.

The tagline for the smartphone-loving Browne’s piece is interesting, however:

Nominate your Woman of the Year and win an iPhone 5 for your trouble.

What was that about courting controversy to move product again? I’m half-tempted to nominate Fox.

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6 Responses to Now Screening: Daily Life and the Fantastic Mrs Fox

  1. DMS says:

    Meh – storm in a teacup.
    We use the iPad for short-term command-and-control; 20 minutes at the end of dinner in a restaurant where food, colouring in and the books we brought have all been depleted; urgent activities (baby needs a bath but toddler has run out of self-management ability). But not allowed during family dinners, as general entertainment and never at bedtime (we read for an hour a day). Having said that if you’re against iPads and have the parenting skills to do all that without assistance – good on you – anti-capitalism is not a factor thanks Rachel.

    i.e. both of these busybodies can get stuffed – it’s all about balance. I know people who don’t go to restaurants with family because they can’t get their kids to behave, however our 3yo orders for himslef, uses a napkin and thanks the staff – stiff shlt if we give him an iPad after dessert for a few minutes while I have a coffee.


  2. Jack says:

    Professor Bunyip often cites Anne Summers’ approach to keeping children occupied and out of mischief. In her case, she allows Young Chip to play with the pots and pans from under the sink. After a few hours of this she sends him off to The Drum Daycare Collective, where supervisor Mark Scott makes sure the little fellow gets his afternoon nap.

  3. MartinX says:

    Brilliant devices for car travel >30 minutes though. Remember how, when we were kids, we’d love travelling in the car for hours, and never fight or get bored, and we loved playing eye spy forever, and we loved looking for cows and horses. No, that never happened for me either. iPads + movies or whatever songs they are learning for school + headphones = peace. But no iPad activity Mon – Fri.

  4. Free Advice says:

    I never understood why reading a book was considered good but watching TV was considered bad by the experts when they both involve lazily sitting on a couch, stimulating the mind. Surely all those nature shows, antique programs and Bernard King’s cooking shows taught me something. Not quite Dickens but better than a Tim Winton novel!

  5. coconutdog says:

    I voted Julie Bishop, ’cause she’s not a leftard.

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