Opinion: parents deserve me time at “smart parks”

Mother and daughter sitting on the bench in the park using a phone.
Mother and daughter sitting on the bench in the park using a phone.

A wise man once said…. The times they are a-changin’. I think it was Bob Dylan?

A Community News story published yesterday showed how local parks are changing. This Eglinton park is Australia’s first ‘smart playground’.

The park has wifi and an app (for both Playstore and the iTunes app store) which gives kids suggestions on how to play with the equipment.

Community News has also run stories on parks with smart benches – which can charge your phone, parks with ‘zen zones’ for parents and a park with a music streaming barbeque.

And many of our readers hate these parks. They attract comments like:

“So what kids can play while the parents’ heads are buried in their phones? Great plan.”

“It’s more for the parents, they can’t keep their noses out of their phones and the kids miss out.”

“Parents should be playing with their kids, not looking at their phones.”

“Kids should be playing with sticks and dirt, not phones.”

I’m a parent. Of three wonderful, annoying, hard-to-entertain children.

I’ve been parenting for 13 years now and I can tell you, when we get to the park, my kids do not want to play with me.

This is their time, to yell, scream and release some feral energy. While I look at my phone.

To be honest, we need more parks for parents and less for kids.

Conversely, after a day of “why?”, “I’m hungry” and “I’m bored”, this time at the park is also my time. So what if I’ve hooked into the free wifi on a smartbench and buried my nose in my phone? It’s probably the first chance I’ve had to look at it all day.

Also, as someone who works from home, time at a park with wifi gives me a chance to finish what I’m doing, without parking the kids in front of the television.

It’s also becoming harder to pry technology out of their hands. The older ones have their iPhones and the younger one his iPad. If an app can get them to put the technology down and engage with park equipment it’s a blessing.

Smart parks are smart.

Now if we can get beanbags and an ice cream van that also delivers mimosas, we might never leave.