For the most part we know that kids are extremely distracted by their phones and are spending more time on them than ever before. However, the latest study shows that over 70% of Americans are texting throughout the day, and all you need to do is take a good look around in any social situation to see how that’s impacting parenting. Discipline is lax, there is more yelling and they pass the cellphone habit onto their kids.
Now before I dive in…
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Introduction To Distracted Parents
Ok let’s get into this really important issue plaguing many families…
According to a new report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that promotes safe technology and media for children, stated that tweens between the ages of 8 to 12 spend on average 4 hours and 44 minutes on their phones a day and teens spend far more time — an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes on their phones a day.
However the question is… Do you find yourself glancing at your phone and being distracted?
We have been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to respond when our phone’s make a noise or vibrate. Not to mention our smart watches around our wrist that buzz and ding to let us know an e-mail or text has just come in.
Most parents, if you ask them would probably not admit they get distracted by their phones when their kids are playing or even talking to them. However, if their kids have a different answer.
According to five research studies reported by the Mind Journal there are damaging effects on children when parents who are physically present, but distracted and less responsive, because they are attending to their smartphone.
Children more negative and less resilient when their Mom’s are on their cell phone
- In a study issued by Developmental Science, they reported that infants and toddlers experienced more distress and were less likely to explore their environment when their mothers were using their cell phones. They were assessed for temperament, social engagement, exploration, and post-disruption reunion and recovery.
- The researchers concluded, “Like other forms of maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness, mobile-device use can have a negative impact on infant social-emotional functioning and parent-child interactions.”
Children feel unimportant because they are competing with technology for their parents’ attention
- In an extensive international study of six thousand 8 to 13 year-old children, 32% reported feeling “unimportant” when their parents use their cellphones during meals, conversations, or other family times.
- Over half of the children stated that their parents spend way too much time on their smartphones. They also reported competing with technology for their parents’ attention.
“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”
Distrated parental attention harms children’s development, socialcly and emotionally
- A major study reported by Mind Journal, this one with rats, reported distracted parent’s harms babies’ development, especially their ability to process a pleasure and engage in social activity. The findings showed that distracted mothers gave their rat pups what they needed to thrive. They achieved normal weight, and they spent the same amount of time with their mothers as the babies raised in the normal environment. However, adolescent offspring who had been raised by distracted mothers ate less sugar solution and spent less time playing and chasing their peers than did rats raised by undistracted mothers.
- The researchers concluded that fragmented and chaotic maternal care disrupts brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life. “We need predictability and consistency for the emotional system to develop,” they write. The same researchers are now applying their findings with rats in studies of humans.
Smartphone use interferes with healthy parenting
- Another study reported by Mind Journal, which was done at fast-food restaurants, reported parents using their smartphone and ignoring their children almost immediately when they sat down and were more absorbed into them than the kids.
- The researchers reported that these distracted parents were more likely to act silly or be noisy. Many of these parents exhibited irritable and impatient characteristics, which only led to worse behavior. They wrote that kids, “learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions. And if that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.”
When parents use smartphones their kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely
- Yet another researcher interviewed a thousand children between the ages of four and eighteen, asking them about their parents’ use of mobile devices. She reported that many of the children described themselves as “sad, mad, angry, and lonely” when their parents were on their devices. Several young children reported damaging or hiding their parents’ cellphone.
So... How Do We Conquer The Cell Phone And Focus On Our Kids??
The obvious answer by the Harvard Business Review is simple: turn off the phone; but with so many people working a few hours a week from home, at least, and more bosses than ever before expecting answers to email on personal time, it’s not always feasible. Still, you can definitely cut back on your addiction.
Try these tips to make sure the kids aren’t competing with technology for attention:
- Use laptops in a designated area only – A home office — or at least a desk in a quiet corner — is ideal. When you keep laptops from following you around the house, you’ll use them less for entertainment and more just to get essential work done. It also sets a good example that a computer is a tool, not a toy.
- Schedule email time – Limit your time checking work email to a designated period. You’ll be much happier if you’re not always “on,” and at your bosses and emloyees fingertips 24hrs a day. Something that can work wonders is declaring “no email after 7 p.m.”
- Turn phones off for the dinner hour – Enjoy family dinner nights by leaving your phone in another room so can’t see or hear it from the dinner table, so you can enjoy food and conversation with your family.
Let’s band together and put an end to distracted parenting by putting these new, healthier habits in place that will allow us to do the important things like, spending quality with your family and building stronger connections with your kids.
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