Putting Parameters on Parents and Their Smartphones

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A great story on NPR this morning about parents obsession and constant use of their smartphones, and moreover how it’s interrupting their interaction with their children.

How does it affect children when you are absorbed in your digital device? Curiosity lead one researcher to delve into it. She observed 55 families at a fast-food restaurant. Forty of 55 people used a mobile device during the meal, basically ignoring the children. This means no face-to-face communication during the meal, but rather kids watching their parents play on their device. When I think about how that would make me feel, it’s sad. Even when I’m out with friends and they start looking at phones, it makes me sad. I feel that my company is less engaging that whatever may flash up on a screen. I’m old and confident enough to not let this get to me, but children aren’t.

Kids learn from their parents. They learn how to communicate based on how we communicate with them and others. They also learn social graces from us. Emailing, texting at the table, driving, in a meeting is not only rude, but unhealthy. We are behaving in ways that so that we aren’t interested in the present subject matter, be it the child or the meeting subject or dinner company, but rather we’d rather watch things on YouTube and check Facebook. 

As much as we talk about putting limitations on children and the amount of time they are allowed to play on smartphones or tablets, etc., I think it’s time we the parents put limitations on ourselves. No more having the phone at the dinner table, breakfast or lunch for that matter. Take 15 minutes and have a conversation with your kids. No more texting when driving. Hopefully you aren’t since it’s illegal, but remember what you do now will influence what they do later and that includes using the phone in the car. And I’m going to vow to not take the phone to the playground. Outside time should be that, outside time, not check email time. It’s good for them, it’s good for me.

Here’s another great story from a dad whose daughter made him all too aware of his obsession with his phone. Sometimes it takes the kids to help us recognize and realize.