More and more it seems that smartphones are infiltrating relationships – be it occupational, social or family, there is always a smart phone to be found. We have all seen the pictures of the family around the table, all busy on their separate devices. With the distraction that has come with constantly being online one has to wonder what effect this has on parenting.
Studies show that there has been a rise in unintentional childhood injuries which occur while the parent who is “supervising” their child is distracted on their phone. Other studies show that parents who often use their smartphones during family time are more likely to respond harshly to their children. This makes sense, when we are busy concentrating on a work email or an ‘important’ chat with a colleague we tend to be quickly irritated by interruptions. And further studies have even indicated that children feel they need to compete with smartphones for parental attention.
The truth is that children thrive on healthy, present and real relationships with their parents and our current technology is threatening these relationships like never before. In order to create and maintain these relationships it is important for parents to ensure that there are tech free times during the day as face-to-face interactions are the primary way children learn social and communication skills.
- Make sure that meal times, bath times, driving trips and bed times are all tech free. Try to include at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted talk time with your kids – put the phones in another room and connect with one another.
- If you need some time to check emails and answer calls, designate a specific time each day to doing this that doesn’t infiltrate your time with your family.
- Model limited smartphone use with your children. They are watching how you use the technology to guide their own technology use. If you are too busy on facebook to interact with the people right infront of you, your child is going to pick up on that.
- Play with apps or watch youtube with your child and demonstrate what is appropriate
Smartphone technology is fantastic and can actually help many families stay connected like never before (e.g. facetime when a parent is away from home with work). When we are physically with our children though, it is important to show them that we value that time, and your child doesn’t have to share their parent with a device.
Neighmond, P. (2014). For The Children’s Sake, Put Down That Smartphone. NPR. Retrieved from
Novotney, A. (2016). Smartphone=not-so-smart parenting? Monitor on Psychology, Vol 47 (2). Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/02/smartphone.aspx