The Very Real Way Your Smartphone Is Affecting Your Parenting
Did you hear the one about how we're so addicted to our phones that we actually experience real, physiological separation anxiety when we're apart from our phones?
And if you've ever accidentally left your phone at home when you're out and about running errands, you know just how true this phenomenon is. Our phones are more than receptacles on which we can call our parents every week — they are our literal lifeline to the world, our friends, our memory keepers, our maps, our cameras, our work, our everything.
There's no doubt about it. Smartphones have changed our lives, and in many ways, that change has been for the better.
But with every new advancement in the world also comes a price to pay. And it turns out that our love affair with our smartphones may just be interfering with our parenting.
A study in Pediatrics looked at a common parenting scenario: parents on the phone while out to eat with their kids. And what did they find?
Well, in a nutshell, the more engrossed you are in your phone as a parent, the worse your kid will behave.
In official terms, the researchers studied the “degree of absorption” the caregivers displayed, based on how often they used their phone, how long they stayed on the phone, and how they used the phone and compared those actions to how the child responded. Not only did the children tend to act up more, simply to try to get their parents' attention, but (and I found this fact slightly horrifying/embarrassing because I know I'm guilty!) the parents, when “interrupted,” tended to react harshly to their child. Ouch.
As a writer and a blogger, I am especially guilty of spending too much time glued to a screen during my day. It's a hard trade-off for me to make each and every day because, on one hand, those screens help me make a living from home, but on the other hand, what kind of life is it I'm living if I'm constantly tethered to my phone?
I try to make conscious efforts to limit my screen time during the day when I'm not working. Honestly, it's almost embarrassing how automatic it is for me to aimlessly scroll on my phone all.the.time, even when I'm not doing anything. Nursing the baby? Scroll that Instagram. Folding laundry? Throw on a show on Netflix. Waiting at school pick-up? Great time to check out the bank account. It's non-stop all day, and honestly, I'm worried my kids' childhood memories will consist of their mother's face behind a screen.
It's humbling and a little scary to realize just how addicted we may be as parents, and it's definitely a goal of this mom to try to limit aimless phone use, to keep it purposeful, and to remember the best lesson I can teach my kids is to be fully present with each other.
How about you? How do you limit screen time for yourself around your kids?