Life Lessons Parenting Technology

it’s time to unplug

Last week, CNN posted a story about a daycare center in Texas that posted a sign on their door instructing parents to put down their phones and pay attention to their kids (see photo below, Click here for CNN article).  I’m not sure what daycare this is, or where they’re located, but I applaud them.

Though ultimately, it’s none of my business how other parents raise their kids, It’s pretty sad to see a kid fighting for attention from their parents over a 5″ screen.

I recall having a discussion with Ben from the “PoppinBottles” podcast on twitter, (great guys, check out our podcast interview here) where he questioned if it’s okay to judge other parents.  My response?  Hell yes its okay!…shoot, I do it all the time, 3 times on my way to work on Friday.  Does it mean they’re raising their kids wrong? Not necessarily. It simply means, their values differ from mine.

Parenting.com put out this great article  where they surveyed over 6,000 kids ages 8-13 in eight different countries about their feelings toward their parent’s constant cell phone use, here are the results:

“The survery discovered that 32 percent of children felt unimportant when their moms and dads were distracted by their phones. The kids said they had to compete with technology for their parents’ attention, and 28 percent of mothers and fathers agreed with this observation.”

Real World Example:

My son is in the BoyScouts, we attend weekly meetings with his den, a group of about 15 other boys, which means there should be about 10-12 parents there (assuming some have more than one child involved).

Not the case.

A handful of parents sit in their cars scrolling through facebook, the rest are sitting in the back of the
room, eyes focused on 5” screens. Do I judge? You bet I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint, either.  I’ve had my times where I need to read something while out with my kids, but, I tend to complete the task and quickly put it away. I don’t want to fall into the habit of putting anything else before my kids, and have been working on keeping my priorities straight when it comes to family time, work, and all else, this is exactly why I quit Facebook.  After all, life is too short to miss important moments.

Here’s a short list of P’s that’s helped me out:

Prioritize: Make a top 5 list of what’s most important in your life. Break the list down by time, the top
priorities should be things that time won’t let you get back. i.e.- Going to a kid’s violin recital vs. reading facebook drama for hours.

Prep for Disconnect: An issue I’ve had in the past is disconnecting from my cell phone and laptop. It
wasn’t until I started feeling guilty, overwhelmed and getting headaches from too much screen time that I started to tone it down. I began to implement other methods to take the place of screen time, like
drawing, writing more, playing my instruments, etc. Leave the cell phone in the bedroom or somewhere
within hearing distance if it rings. Focus on quality with family.

Be Present: Nothing screams “shitty parent” more than someone pushing their kid on a swing while eyes are locked onto their phone. It’s okay to check out that newsfeed, facebook update, snapchat photo or whatever, later on.  Trust me…you can always scroll down and check it later, it’s not going anywhere. Don’t let your kid think what’s going on in your phone is more important than their award ceremony, dance recital, etc.

Take care of those Pupils: No, Not students, but your eyes. Ever since I started working in my new position, my eyes have gotten progressively worse due to huge LCD screens. Holding that phone just beyond your nose is not helping out either. I know this is mind-blowing information, but studies have shown that your eyes need a rest, and too much screen time can cause abnormal sleeping patterns, mental fatigue, eye strain, attention disorders, etc.

Paying it forward:  This one is simple.  Kids will repeat what they hear, same as they’ll repeat what they see their parents doing.  Giving your kids the proper attention will instill values and ensure they do the same with their kids/ friends/ any other human being.

So Parents, it’s okay to miss out on what’s going on with your friends online, you can always go back and check it later, but you can’t scroll back time with your kids.

As always, I welcome emails, questions and comments from any of my posts, thanks for checking it out!

-Vic

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