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.