When Did The IPhone Become The Pacifier?


By: Larry Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP

Having practiced as a clinical psychologist for nearly 40 years, I’ve noted a distinct change in my waiting room within the past decade. I work with several independent providers in a large multi-disciplinary office—with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and therapists. Ten years ago or so when I walked into the waiting room, especially in the afternoon when it is crowded, the room was noisy. Clients would be talking to their partners or to their children, conversing with other clients, reading to their children, helping their children with their homework, or playing a card game with one of their kids.

Today, even when the waiting room is packed, it is quiet. Everyone—adults and children—are silently staring at and manipulating their I-phone or I-pad. I see children as young as two given their parent’s phone to play with, as soon as they sit down. Clearly, for many kids and families the I-phone has become today’s pacifier. Apple should produce a nipple attachment for its phone so the child can suck on it—perhaps while playing Angry Birds.

What happened to human interaction? Why can’t people talk to each other? Why can’t couples talk to each other? Why aren’t parents interacting with their kids?

By not talking to each other, what are our kids learning? It seems to this professional that kids today have to be entertained. They have the attention span of a gnat—on caffeine. Read a book, draw a picture, write a letter to Grandmother—forget it! Today’s kids do not know how to amuse themselves or self-soothe—without the use of electronics.

Technology, in its place is great. Let’s not allow it to replace basic human interaction.

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for over 35 years. He works with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations in the areas of family law, personal injury, and estate planning. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of “Who’s Raising Whom? A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline,” “Coping with Your Adolescent,” “How Come I Love Him But Can’t Live With Him? Making Your Marriage Work Better,” “The Graduate Course You Never Had: How to Develop, Manage, Market a Flourishing Private Practice—With and Without Managed Care,” and “Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Your Fortune? Discover the Psychology of Achieving Your Life Goals.” His contact information is: 602-996-8619; 11020 N. Tatum Blvd., Bldg. E, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85028;LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.