Last night on the train home I sat across from a mother and a seven or eight year old boy. As soon as the train started moving the mother took out her iPhone, and began touching the screen — focusing her attention here. She looked tired, maybe after a long Sunday in the city visiting a park or relatives or friends. The child sat next to her quietly for a while, looking around, then looking at what his mother was doing. Finally he said (in Swedish), “Mom, where’s my iPhone?”

The mother pulled a second iPhone out of her winter coat pocket (maybe her old phone?) and handed it to the boy, without really glancing up from her screen. The boy started playing what seemed to be a game on the phone, moving his body and making quiet noises. He kept looking up at his mother. But, every time he looked up she was intently focused on her screen. And, when she didn’t look at him he turned his attention back to his device.

 

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