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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dear Annie 3/6

By Annie Lane Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: I find it incredible that so many people want to push their views on children who do not belong to their family and then pass judgment on their parents. There have been numerous scientific studies proving that children become smarter and more confident when they play by themselves or with other children without adults’ helicoptering interference. Adults do not exist to be toys or full-time entertainers for our children. We raise them, feed them, clothe them and nurse them through medical illness, which are all things that require a large amount of attention and love.

No one has any idea what a person does on their cellphone. They could be arranging much needed medical care, working to pay the bills, communicating with school, or simply reading the news or an ebook. When I was a child, my nose was stuck in a book 75% of my free time. The rest of my time was spent jumping rope, playing marbles and getting into antics with the neighborhood kids. My mother drew during most of her free time and read the rest of the time.

There was never an expectation for her to give me her undivided attention. She was an adult, with adult concerns, that included taking care of me in ways that were far more important than entertaining me. I hope you can gently remind the next person who complains about parents on smartphones of this. I would be happy to forward published academic medical articles upon request. Thank you. – Doctor Who Knows

Dear Doctor: Thank you for your letter. You are correct that criticism of other people’s parenting is widespread and unfortunate. Helicopter parenting is a big problem as well, and kids do best when given appropriate age independence.

Seeing a parent on a smartphone while ignoring their children is easy to complain about, but, as you say, what if they are on the phone to pay bills or make a doctor’s appointment for the child? On the other hand, scrolling down social media posts endlessly while ignoring one’s child is never good. Perhaps a balance is what is called for.

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