WE NEED TO GET OFF OUR PHONES! Yes, I'm yelling here. Guys, gals, unicorns, etc., we have got to do a better job at putting down our phones and being present with our children. If you're reading this on your phone, quickly finish, then really put it down and get back to the kiddos! I'm just as guilty as the next phone addict, and thanks to the recent Apple update I can now see, in a chart, just how much time I'm spending on my phone. #thanksfornothinApple. So this is certainly not the pot trying to call the kettle any shade of black, it's simply saying, "Hey, we ALL can do better! Our kids deserve better! Our kids WANT better."
I'm not the only one saying this. Smart people are too (which always makes me feel better!) For example, the folks over at Psychology Today recently shared this report outlining some of the dangers we’re putting our kids in by being on our phones:
"In one study, published in Developmental Science, infants and toddlers from seven months to two years old were assessed for temperament, social engagement, exploration, and post-disruption reunion and recovery. The researchers reported that children expressed more distress, and were less likely to explore their environment, when their mothers were using their cell phones.
"The young children whose mothers [AND probably fathers too!] reported greater habitual use of mobile devices outside the lab showed more negativity, and less emotional recovery, when their mothers [and fathers] did turn off their phones. 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.'"
Not only is being on our phones potentially harmful to our kids, they want us to get off our phones too! In a 2018 US survey conducted by Common Sense Media, 33% of nearly 1,000 respondents between the ages of 13 and 17 said they wished their parents would get off their devices. Additionally, in an international study out of Amsterdam, 32% of kids reported feeling “unimportant” when their parents use their cellphones during meals, conversations, or other family times. Over half of the children in the study said their parents spend too much time on their phones. Not to mention that kids use of social media has increased significantly in the past few years, and the reality is that kids are getting their example from their parents! Check out this infographic from Common Sense Media. (Download the full report HERE).
Growing up, I remember our home phone plugged into the wall and the ten-thousand-foot spiral cord that allowed you to take the call and park it on the couch in the next room. That was the only phone in the house, and only one person could be on it at a time! Sure, we fought over who got to use the phone, but at the end of the day, it was only one phone against the six of us! At dinner we would all sit at the table together as a family and had no distractions with people scrolling through Instagram or checking the latest scores or updates from the news. Today my mom still insists on no phones at the dinner table, and the dinners where we unplug are the most rewarding.
Are you TOO plugged in to your phone?
Now I don’t even really remember when we got cell phones in my house, although I do remember getting the indestructible Nokia and learning to text with that thing, but I know that now we’ve got phones in nearly every pocket or purse, and some folks are carrying multiple phones! Our world has become so oversaturated with being connected online and it’s costing us connection with our kids! Look at your phone usage. Evaluate if there’s room for improvement and set meaningful goals to adjust behavior. I just gave my kids permission to call me out if I’m on my phone and they’re feeling neglected. Ask your kids and spouse or significant other to help you work on it if needs be. But whatever you do, don’t read this and think to yourself, “Wow, that guy’s got a problem. But I’m good. I don’t need to worry about it.” That won’t help and that’s just not realistic here!
Guy, gals, EVERYONE! We have got to put our phones down more when we’re with our kids. We can do better.
Also, check out a conversation I recently had on Fresh Living talking about this HERE.