According to a recent article in Atlantic Magazine, parent’s screen time is hurting children.
According to the article “Occasional parental inattention is not catastrophic (and may even build resilience), but chronic distraction is another story. Smartphone use has been associated with a familiar sign of addiction: Distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but actually misread them. A tuned-out parent may be quicker to anger than an engaged one, assuming that a child is trying to be manipulative when, in reality, she just wants attention. Short, deliberate separations can of course be harmless, even healthy, for parent and child alike (especially as children get older and require more independence). But that sort of separation is different from the inattention that occurs when a parent is with a child but communicating through his or her nonengagement that the child is less valuable than an email. A mother telling kids to go out and play, a father saying he needs to concentrate on a chore for the next half hour—these are entirely reasonable responses to the competing demands of adult life. What’s going on today, however, is the rise of unpredictable care, governed by the beeps and enticements of smartphones. We seem to have stumbled into the worst model of parenting imaginable—always present physically, thereby blocking children’s autonomy, yet only fitfully present emotionally.”
Obviously we all want to be good parents to our children, but in the tech saturated world that we live in, this sometimes can be hard, especially when it is all so new, and no one is telling us what we can do. As a therapist in the Rivertowns, below are some tools I share with parents in my practice to help mitigate the above phenomenon, and be more present in their children’s lives:
1). Tell your children what you are doing on your phones. (Ie. I’m looking up a phone number, I’m writing an important work email, I’m reading the newspaper, I’m texting with Dad). Before smartphones existed, kids used to know what their parents were doing because they could see! They saw you reading the paper, or looking up a number. Now they just feel ignored, they feel that they are not a priority.
2). Don’t mindlessly scroll in front of your child! You are telling them that you care more about other people’s (often stranger’s lives), than you do about theirs. And you are setting a bad example for your kids, (that it’s okay to spend hours of your time staring mindlessly at a screen).
3). Don’t use your phone at the dinner table, when driving, when talking to people. Put your phone down and look your children in the eye when speaking to them. Model the importance of face to face communication and common courtesy.
4). Put your phone away at concerts, when out to dinner, at social gatherings etc. Model the importance of being in the moment, NOT being constantly distracted by your smartphone.
5). Don’t carry your phone in your hand everywhere you go. Put it in your purse or pocket when out and about and leave it in one place in your home such as the kitchen counter, even when you go upstairs (unless you are expecting an important work communication etc.). This shows your kids that being in the moment matters, the phone can wait!
6). If you feel comfortable with it, leave the phone in the car when you are out, tell your kids you don’t need it, you can always go to the car and get it if necessary!
6). Explain to your children that a smartphone is a tool, and should be used as such, not a toy for one’s entertainment.
Hope these tips help. Look out for more helpful blog posts from HeadsUp Rivertowns in the near future!