Digital use doesn’t always spell neglect of children

Sabrina Mansour owns a smartphone and is an avid instant messenger, but her children don’t pay the price because it’s all about them

By Ruqya Khan, Special to Gulf News
21:00 August 4, 2012

Sabrina Mansour is a stay-at-home mum with three daughters — when she is not running errands and driving her little ones around — she keeps herself busy online and not just with Facebook. She also browses news and searches for delicious recipes to cook up for her family.

Though she admits it is easy to get addicted to the digital world, she ensures the rules of her routine are such that there is a balanced blend between her roles.

“Am I a Facebook addict? I would say yes and no. I check it daily but if I don’t have access, I don’t feel lost,” she said. “I use it to stay in touch with family and friends around the world, but hardly ever use the Facebook chat, which keeps me away from the keyboard.”

Neglecting the kids for the sake of the digital world is not her cup of tea. “I know and have seen many people who tend to lose track of time and self. But for me, it isn’t so,” she said.

“I am a full-time mother and my kids are my primary responsibility and priority in life. Everything I do is around their schedule, and for their benefit.”

Even when Mansour is online, she searches for activities and shows to take her children to, she added.

“On Facebook, I join malls- and kids-related sites to be informed about activities and I’ve joined discount sites to nab interesting deals.”

Moderation is key

Juggling her time between her digital use and parenting is not an issue since Mansour believes everything is best in moderation.

“I go online only when they are at school, having a break, online themselves or sleeping,” she said.

“When I am with the kids, I am not on my smartphone and that is because I keep in touch with only a handful of people and they are busy too.”

However, she did admit to using instant messaging regularly on her phone.

Finding balance is not so difficult for this mum. “The whole system becomes a hassle if you try to keep the two separate. I simply don’t. We share. The girls get to use my laptop and phone almost as much as I do,” she said. “Most apps on my phone are kids’ games and the bookmarks on my laptop are game sites.”