Things have changed significantly since my children were young. The world is a different place and seems to be moving at an incredibly fast rate. The pace of technology has increased exponentially hence creating issues that parents and children never had to deal with before. The way that people parent their children has also changed. With the ease of access to technology, there has been a shift in how parents and children spend their free time. People have become very reliant on technology and it has invaded almost every aspect of our lives. There are some amazing benefits to being so connected to technology but on the other side of that coin, we have started to become disconnected in our relationships.
A study conducted in 2017 showed that the average American spends about 3 hours a day on their phone. A decade ago, the average time spent on a phone was only 90 minutes. This huge increase has been attributed to the number of apps that people can download and use on their phone. We have become very distracted by our phones. I am definitely guilty of this as well but have been actively working on putting the phone down. It is an important lesson and it becomes even more important when children are involved.
Children pay very close attention to their parents. They pay attention to the words and actions of their parents so it is important for parents to remember to be mindful around their children. In many ways, children depend on their parent’s attention for their survival. When parents are physically present but not emotionally present, it has a very negative impact on a child’s well being. Parents are starting to become consumed by their cell phones and technology and it is important to remember to disconnect.
One of the main reasons to put the phone down is that children feel unimportant when they have to compete with the attention of their parent’s smartphones. When parents bring their phones to the dinner table, use them during family time or just generally spend a lot of time of them, the child feels like they have to compete with the phone for their parent’s attentiveness. Studies have shown that kids feel unimportant when they have to compete for the attention of a smartphone.
Technology provides a distraction, which is great for when we are waiting in line at the grocery store but when it comes to parenting, it can cause social and emotional harm to children. Distracted parents as a whole have a tendency to be unpredictable, less reliable and less attentive. Children need predictability and consistency because it helps them to develop sound emotional and social skills. Distracted parenting can lead to emotional disorders in children. The cell phone interferes with a healthy parent and child relationship leading the child to feel angry, alienated and sad.
The world is a busy place and parents have more on their plates than ever before. Most people get caught up in the hectic Monday through Friday whirlwind of work, school, and activities. Sometimes we just want to zone out with our cell phones for a bit. Instead, turn that focus to planning family activities. Setting aside quality time needs to be part of that hectic schedule. Include family activities on a daily or weekly basis. Have a phone-free dinner where everyone sits down at the table to eat and talk. Another good family activity is after dinner walks around the neighborhood to a local park. These types of activities encourage conversation and will create a healthy bond between parent and child.
Focusing on phone free activities with children is very important to their emotional and social development. Excessive use of the cell phone around children has been shown to negatively impact the child and it can be destructive to the relationship between parent and child. Even if you need to set a reminder to set the phone down, it will be worth it.