It’s time to step away from your phone, and pay attention to your child!

Mobile phone addiction in parents’ create long term affects on children

After the circulation of a meme, where a children’s’ nursery implored parents through passive aggressive notice, to put down their mobile phones and pay attention to their children (incidently, a picture was taken of this notice and put on a popular social network) it became apparent that this is not an unusual phenomenon.

In a society where we have access to technology 24/7, it is not uncommon to witness many people in social situations, staring at their phones, but what exactly is the effect on our children?

From npr.org “We know from decades of research that face-to-face interactions are important for cognitive, language, and emotional development,” said study author Dr. Jenny Radesky, a fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, yet many parents have been identified as staring at their phones rather than fully engaging with their child “’ Dr. Jenny Radesky is a pediatrician specializing in child development. When she worked at a clinic in a high-tech savvy Seattle neighborhood, Radesky started noticing how often parents ignored their kids in favor of a mobile device. She remembers a mother placing her phone in the stroller between herself and the baby. “The baby was making faces and smiling at the mom,” Radesky says, “and the mom wasn’t picking up any of it; she was just watching a YouTube video.” Radesky was so concerned she decided to study the behavior. After relocating to Boston Medical Center, she and two other researchers spent one summer observing 55 different groups of parents and young children eating at fast food restaurants. Many of the caregivers pulled out a mobile device right away, she says. “They looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently.” This was not a scientific study, Radesky is quick to point out. It was more like anthropological observation, complete with detailed field notes. Forty of the 55 parents used a mobile device during the meal, and many, she says, were more absorbed in the device than in the kids.”

The result of these observations was that children were often ignored, or reprimanded for seeking attention, whilst the parents miss moments and bonding experiences with their child.

Further, a study from AVG Technologies discovered that 32% of children felt unimportant when mothers and fathers were distracted by their phone, the children surveyed stated that they felt like they had to compete with technology. 54% believe that their parents spend too much time on their phones, and 52% of parents agreed, believing that they are setting a bad example for their children. 25% of parents wishes their children used their devices less.

So why are so many parents continuing to use their devices in such a constant time-consuming way, yet often critical of the amount of time their children are on devices.

As a society, we question often about how much screen time is too much for a child, yet we do not look at ourselves, after all, children learn from and imitate their parents. We set the example. We give them access to what they can use. Granted, not all screen time is bad, for many, google has solved a lot of questions, and in some instances, youtube is educational. But it is evident that we have passed positive screen time, and are addicted to our devices.

So what should we do? Why not give yourself set times; when they are in bed, when you actually need to look at your phone – make technology-free times – like dinner together with phones off. As healthychildren.org suggests “play non-electronic games… read together…. Designate tech-free outings… create regular tech-free times” this is highly important as “The development of speech and language skills is strongly linked to thinking ability, social relationships, reading and writing, and school success. In the first three years of life, 80% of a child’s brain development occurs. This development is fed through consistent verbal and nonverbal interactions between parents and children, so it is important to keep the focus on quality time and not on technology whenever you can.”

It’s not too late to change your technological habits, for the sake of your childrens psychological, emotional, behavioural and physiological developments, look in the mirror and turn off that phone!

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