Tonawanda News


April 4, 2013

DUVALL: Your cellphone isn't a parenting device

Tonawanda News — I heard a radio commercial that caught my attention the other day, and not for the right reasons.

A woman is talking in that hushed tone reserved for women admitting they’d double-dipped on dessert or some other “naughty” indulgence. Except it isn’t a commercial for chocolate or wine or lingerie. It’s a commercial for AT&T’s 4G cellphone service. Specifically it touts the carrier’s streaming video.

The woman says she’s enjoying the peace and quiet in a coffeeshop while her son — rather than running around like a maniac like normal — is “happily watching that movie about the fish for the 300th time.”

We have people who write columns about parenting for this paper. I am not one of those people. I’m not a parent and I don’t know the first thing about raising children or the challenge it presents. But it is a disturbing thought that the smart advertising execs are using the same women to voice over commercials for child-occupying pocket devices as sinfully delicious cheesecake.

They skipped all manner of pretense and outwardly marketed their cellphones as miracle devices that mesmerize your children — and mean you don’t have to actually do all that messy, frustrating, time-consuming parenting! Sit back and drink your coffee in peace. Just make sure you buy the unlimited data plan.

It is at this juncture I should point out I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth. I’m perpetually the guy in the coffeeshop trying to read a book but stuck next to this woman and her crummy kid who won’t stop screaming or kicking the back of my chair. If only we could find something to occupy those kids ... .

And lord knows the handful of times I’ve been responsible for babysitting a small child, “Finding Nemo” went in the DVD player faster than you can say “early bedtime.”

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