Imagine being a child who only sees her parents in person every few years. That’s the reality for children of migrant workers all over the world, from the Philippines to China to Mexico. While the money and gifts their parents send back may improve their material conditions, growing up in separated families leads to social problems and emotional distress.
Technologies like cheap phone calls and Skype keep parents and children connected, but even the best technology is not the same as being there in person. Parents working abroad or in faraway domestic cities can’t engage in much of the physical and emotional labor we associate with parenting. They can’t cook for their kids, patch up their boo-boos, or hug and kiss them. As the girl interviewed near the end of the Al Jazeera clip above says, “All we have is a cell phone to take care of us.”