Get Off Your Phone And Spend Time With Your Child
The overuse of devices is increasingly becoming a huge problem in many ways. There are loads of articles/ research on how and why we should decrease screen time for children and youth, however what about parents? What messages are parents sending to their children? As I have been out and about, I have increasingly noticed parents looking at their screens whilst pushing prams, at the park pushing their children on swings, on bush walks, at the beach and the like. I’ve also noticed children trying to get their parents attention by acting erratically or emotionally, as they want some eye contact and their parent’s undivided attention ( for 5 mins), instead of competing with a phone screen. The message that is being sent to our children is – “My phone screen is more important than you”, with I might add, devastating long term effects. So now is really the time to get off your phone and spend time with your child.
Children need face to face conversations, interactions and for their parents to listen to what they are saying, they shouldn’t have to compete with a phone like it’s another child in the family vying for attention. We can’t say to them, “That’s enough screen time”, when we are constantly on our phones! Children are imitators. I have gone and go to parks a fair bit and I’ve seen again and again children trying and trying to get their parents attention, with the parents responding, “Whaaattt!!??” Like why are you bothering me again? Or some parents asking “Why is my child so badly behaved at home, I can’t work it out, they have heaps of toys to play with.” Newsflash – they want you! They want your attention, your interaction, affection, hugs, smiles, approval, teaching, wisdom etc. Yes, I recognise the need for parental time out, being a parent is a huge responsibility and a self-less job. However, it’s not all about you anymore.
Did you know there is now actually a term called ‘phone snubbing’ or ‘phubbing’? It means to ignore the person you are with at the time – preferring to devote your time to a phone screen! Can you imagine what that does to a little child? Do we really have to check all our SM every few minutes to see who has posted what or to comment on a post etc. This can add up to hours. Hours of missed time that could have been spent with our little ones.
Yes technology is increasing and I’m not against it, I run my business primarily from my phone and laptop. I’m not being unrealistic here, I know that some of us have to check our phones throughout the day as we might be waiting on important emails, outcomes to certain business decisions etc. However, the overuse of them is really having negative effects on our parent-children relationships, weakening the parental bond. The stronger the bond built when they are younger they better it will be when they are teenagers leading into adulthood. How wonderful that your child wants to spend time with you now, as when they are teenagers this might change.
Parents need to encourage their children’s creativity and imagination not to just say “Okay time for free play” and it ends up being for hours while a parent sits on their phone. Parents need to be mindfully present when raising their children. Face to face interactions are the greatest way children learn about their emotions, as they learn how to read people’s facial expressions. Given the fact that emotional intelligence is a huge predictor of success, there’s a huge amount of children who will start missing out on important developmental milestones. In addition, research has shown that a strong predictor of children developing strong language skills in the early years are those fluent uninterrupted conversations between a parent and a child. So you can see how constant interruptions from dings on a phone and/or constantly checking a phone can impede a much-needed flow of conversation.
This really needs to be addressed now, are parents even aware of the amount of time spent on their phones or the future consequences for their children and their parent/child relationship? Is underdeveloped language, weak parental/child bonds, increased attention-seeking behaviour, lack of creativity and many more negative effects worth this technology ‘addiction’? Children won’t attempt to get their parents attention forever, they will eventually give up and just get used to being ignored, sadly realising that their parents’ phones are much more important than they are. So for their sakes get off your phone and spend time with your child.