Time to Create More Red Light Moments?

–connect with your family, talk, laugh and truly listen to your kids.

Maybe it’s time to stop looking into the lives of everyone around us online, and start looking at the lives in front of us—the ones who love and need us the most.

When driving, did you ever catch yourself looking over at someone to your left while waiting at a red light? Sometimes, you glance over, and other times you have to look a little longer? Maybe something piqued your interest like a song you heard, or perhaps the person looked familiar? Looking around at other drivers used to be the norm–especially at a red light. Nobody had their heads down before mobile phones.

Two days ago, I was driving home from Panera. There were three lanes to the main road—one to go right, one to go left, and one to go straight. I was driving straight. I turned my eyes to get a glimpse of the driver next to me who was waiting to turn left. There was a young teenage boy in the passenger’s seat, and his father was in the driver’s seat. The boy kept glancing at his father back and forth over and over. He didn’t say a word. He kept looking at him with a craving face for discussion–for anything.

At this red light, I noticed the father was scrolling through Facebook (because I could see the glare from his window). Instead of looking at his son, he was more interested in looking at the lives of other people on his mobile phone. The young teen finally gave up, tightened his eyes, and put his headphones on to listen to music. A red light moment missed—a bonding time where a son was craving his father’s attention.

And, these stories are everywhere.

Maybe it’s time to stop looking into the lives of everyone around us online, and start looking at the lives in front of us—the ones who love and need us the most.

We’ve become so disconnected in our own homes, with our true friends, and even with our children who need us now more than ever. And, it’s illegal to use your phone while driving in Illinois (not a great role-model).

I hope you can take this small note with you as the school year begins, and make time to look at your own life, nourish it, and give your loved ones the attention they deserve.

Please connect with your family–talk, laugh and truly listen to your kids. Your feeds, emails, text messages-all will most likely always be there–your loved ones won’t always be there.

Create red light moments you’ll never forget. More red light moments—we need them now more than ever.

If you’re a parent who wants to make an effort to pay more attention to your family over the course of this new school year, please tell me in the comments or reach out privately. I’d like to know what changes you might make, how it goes for you, and how it changes your family dynamic.

I hope you will be pleasantly surprised.


Robyn D. Shulman
Robyn D. Shulman
Robyn D. Shulman, M.Ed., is a certified K-9, ESL, and Writing Teacher. In 2018, LinkedIn named her the #1 Top Voice in Education. She is a contributing writer for Forbes, where she covers education and entrepreneurship. She is also the Executive Editor at Brain-centric Design. She writes about K-12, college changes, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the innovation we need to have in education. She also shares how learning works on a fundamental level for both children and adults, based on 40 years of neuroscience. Her work highlights the positive changes we can bring in K-12, for college-age students, and within corporate education. Robyn is also the founder of EdNews Daily, an education media outlet and resource that provides education support and information for parents, students, teachers, and school administrators. Robyn has also been part of LinkedIn's advisors since 2013 and was named as "Someone to Follow" in 2016 with the official influencers who use the platform. Before her time writing, she started her career in a 4th-grade classroom, and eventually transitioned into higher education. Entrepreneur, Forbes, Cision's Influencer Blog, The Huffington Post, LinkedIn's Official Blog, The International Educator, Edudemic, Edutopia, We Are Teachers, Reimagine Education, Fox News Chicago, Thrive Global, The Next Web, and more publications have featured her work. Today, she continues to work with students, teachers, and innovators in education, hoping to bring positive change to the entire education system.

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  1. So good, Robyn!! We’ve actually stared driving our son to a new school 40 minutes away and have discovered that teenage boys will talk to you in the car! It’s been a miraculous gift! He’ll only give us abut a 10-15 window into his world before he insists we turn on our audiobook, but it’s something we’ve learned to cherish. We had thought the commute to school was going to be a painful hardship and it’s brought us closer together.

    • Hi Kimberly, Thank you so much. I love your story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I’m so happy to hear this news. It’s not easy being a teenager today. I couldn’t have imagined how much life would change in such a short time since I had my daughter, too. Enjoy those amazing moments.

  2. Such a timely reminder, Robyn, for many parents to face up to their parental responsibility rather than whinge about their kids. I have long believed that teaching sound parental skills is long overdue if we want to save the concept of family. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Noemi! Yes, we are losing the concept of family and real personal connection more and more every day–it’s extremely worrisome.

  3. Interesting article Robyn, and sadly you are right. We are a culture addicted to gadgets, social media and validation. Perhaps people are looking for something outside of their lives that may be lacking. Most people will not admit the fact that the daily routine of work-work-work, pay bills like a slave is tiring after a while. I think people are searching for an escape, but the consequences are worse at the expense of family and loved ones who are deprived of your attention. It’s a sad reality, and the technology companies do not care at all while they profit over this formula. Great points you raise here…

    • Hi Aaron,
      Thank you so much. This lack of connection is already causing critical problems during child development.

    • Thank you Larry. I hope they can remember this message when they have kids (if they don’t yet).

  4. Robyn, such an important message for our culture and how the whole family is impacted by social media. I compare the values of culture like branches of a metaphorical tree and its survival in a digital environment where a plugged in cell phone is changing the texture and vision of society itself. Definitely agree red lights are important to stop and connect; and also, green lights to share a common journey.

  5. Robyn, we should never ignore our family or friends in favor of those we know online. The disconnect that happens cannot be totally blamed on the internet. When verbal communication becomes difficult or strained there is a good chance too much internet time (whatever amounts to excessive use is up for debate) is most likely a cause. It is also very likely there is a greater problem beneath the surface that is not known or seen. Long before internet tv was the villain that created communication issues. I think we need to stop looking for scapegoats and take closer looks at ourselves.