Technology is here to stay.
Many of us rely on it for everything from our daily schedule to checking in with relatives overseas to finding a recipe we need for tonight’s dinner (or finding a menu to order-in.)
So how do we balance the use of our devices with our parenting? That requires taking time to consider what is really important, and then how we will put those ideas into practice.
It is not surprising that many parents would put their child’s health and development high on their list of priorities—but what they may not realize is the way technology interferes with this. Infants and young children need eye-to-eye contact. According to Catherine Steiner-Adair, in her book The Big Disconnect,
‘The mirroring exchange that occurs when we return our baby’s gaze or giggle allows us to communicate wordlessly… if that connection is stable, steady and supportive, baby and parent form a ‘secure attachment.’ When those qualities are weak or missing, the attachment may be compromised. ..Studies show that [babies] are especially distressed by a mother’s ‘flat’ or emotionless expression…adopted when we stare down to text or into a screen as we go online.’
As children reach age six or seven, parents’ distraction with technology is leading kids to misbehave for attention. A parent recently asked us, ‘Can you believe that my child is throwing things at me to get me off the phone?’ Yes. We can believe it. It may be that the child has learned that throwing things is the easiest way to get Mom or Dad off the device.
So…what can we do about this? It is simple really. Decide when you will be on your devices and when you will put them down—out of reach. Then, do it!
Is the person on the other end of the device that much more important than your child? Children do not need to be the one-and-only thing in our lives—we just need to be clear that when we are with our kids (spending time cooking, playing, walking or hanging out,) that we are with them. When we are working or communicating with others, we aren’t pretending to be present with our kids. The bottom line is: no matter how good a parent thinks they can fake their presence and attention, kids just don’t buy it.
Image of child with phone from Shutterstock.