Distracted Families

It’s back to school season which means it’s back to the books for children and back to the familiar classroom battle of convincing students that it is in fact possible to survive the next 40 minutes of class without having a cell phone attached to your hand.  Smart phones have put the world at our fingertips; making immediately available not just communication, but information, music, email and games.  While we often hear teachers and parents complain about children and teens’ excessive use of their cell phones, the reality is that increasingly more often it is the parents who are attached to their technology, making more of our parenting moments, distracted moments.

It seems the 9-5 work day Dolly Parton once sang about doesn’t exist anymore.  We are constantly answering emails, looking up information and calling clients outside of the traditional work day.  Our Smartphones make it easy for us to do that.  We are becoming expert muti-taskers; shooting off one more quick email while sitting down to dinner, or answering a phone call while supervising play dates at the park.  While technology has made it possible for us to stay connected virtually all the time, research shows that this may be at the expense of our relationships with our children.

In a recent study discussed in Psychology Today, research shows that during a family meal at a restaurant, 40 out of 55 parents/guardians were on their phones during the meal.  Of those, 16 caregivers were on their device continually. The consequence of this distracted parenting was that the children’s inappropriate behavior steadily increased as the parent’s attention was diverted elsewhere.  The child steadily increased their undesired behavior in order to try to gain the parent’s attention.  Perhaps even worse, in some cases the child appeared resigned to being ignored while the parent was on their device.  When a parent is engaged with technology during family time, the message conveyed is one that suggests that whatever is occurring on the phone is more important than the conversation or the opportunity to connect with the family members around you.

It is not realistic (and indeed not helpful) to give our children 100% of our attention at all times.  However, by setting aside a time each day (i.e. meal time) where screen time is not allowed for either children OR parents will help to re-establish connections and remind children that their ideas and experiences are worth our undivided attention.  By establishing a routine of when and where it is appropriate to use technology, we can model good mobile behavior for our children and ensure that the time spent together is not distracted time.

#KeepItInYourPocket! We have comfy, fashionable clothes that have an inside pocket for you to store your device.  Take time to connect and observe the world around you and take a break from your screen.  Shop our selection to help you do just that at www.insidepocketco.com and visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/insidepocketco

*With reference to “Are you a Distracted Parent?” www.psychologytoday.com

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