A boy, a car, a DVDThis past Wednesday in our local paper, the Austin American-Statesman, columnist Ashley Sanchez wrote about how children and parents wander around under the spell of technology everywhere they go, and how this just cannot be a good thing.

She begins with an example that I think we can all nod our heads over. Some local preschools have banned cell phones in the building because parents dropping their children off and picking them up grow so involved with their phones that their conversations have “precluded kissing their children goodbye, greeting them after school and hearing about their day from their teacher.”

(How many of you start your storytimes, as I did in my last job, with “Please silence your cellphones during storytime”?)

Staff members at another preschool in an affluent Austin neighborhood see that when children watch DVDs in the car on their way to school instead of talking with Mom or Dad, they can become hypnotized and arrive at the school in a daze, not ready to listen to the teacher.

I should have known this, but hadn’t realized that DVD players had become close to ubiquitous in the back seats of all those SUVs carrying kids around. Sanchez writes:

More than 80 percent of 2008 model year cars had DVD players included as either a standard or optional feature, up from about 64 percent the previous year.

But she makes a suggestion that every library staffer watching parents cart all those piles of DVDs to the circ desk should take to heart – and hey, we’re the folks on the front line who have all those books on CD at hand:

Two years ago, I obliquely suggested that listening to unabridged audiobooks is preferable to the children watching DVDs on long road trips. It’s like a traveling book club that the whole family, including the driver, can participate in.

Just something to think about. I know that lots of parents check out books on CD for the car already. But plenty of others don’t.