The pitfalls of smartphone parenting

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My daughter would get on my case. She was vehement when I pulled out my phone, answered a text or call.

“Mom! I’m with you! Put your phone down.”

Invariably, it was my son who would call or text while I was spending time with my daughter. I wondered how that happened? Did he have special radar to know when we were together? Did he want to interrupt us?

In any case, I found some good information in Is Smartphone Parenting hurting our kids? from The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC, by Sara Novak. It reminded me to be in the moment with our kids and loved ones. And yes, put the phone down! Here are some excerpts from the article:

We’ve all done it. Taken our phones out for a quick email check at a stoplight. Scrolled through Instagram or returned a text while waiting for school to let out. Or researched our next kitchen renovation on Pinterest while our little one picks out a book for story time.

The long-term repercussions of this distracted parenting are largely unknown. After all, we’re the first generation of parents to feel the magnetic draw of our smartphones day in and day out. My mom certainly didn’t. Her daily parenting distractions consisted of watching reruns of “Seinfeld” on television or calling her sister in Omaha from a landline.

But the current landscape has changed vastly in the past two decades. According to Common Sense Media, 41 percent of teens feel their parents are constantly distracted by devices and don’t pay enough attention to them when they’re together. And a whopping 69 percent of parents feel the need to check their devices every hour.

The downsides of “smartphone parenting” are both obvious and more subtle. Getting in a traffic accident with your kids in the car is an obvious danger. While it’s illegal to text while driving in South Carolina, in Mount Pleasant, the fine is just $50 for a first offense and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked over to see a car full of kids and mom or dad looking down at a phone.

I certainly won’t pretend to be innocent. We’ve all felt the need to reach for our phones when checking them was unnecessary or even dangerous. But the problem is real. Nine people die every day in the U.S. as a result of distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a tragedy most parents cringe to think about.

Tapping away on our phones in front of our kids also sets a bad example, says Dr. Elizabeth Mack, division director of pediatric critical care and professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina. It teaches our kids “sedentary habits (and) minimizes healthy interaction and joint attention between parents and children.”

Parents and kids that obsessively use their devices may also experience headaches and irritability, she says.

Not giving children our full attention also sends a message that they’re not a priority, says Bonnie Compton, a child and adolescent therapist, parent coach and author of “Mothering With Courage.” She says that kids often feel that they’re not being seen and heard when their parents are right in front of them.

Another reminder of how obsessed we are with our smartphones is in an entertaining video by Fog and Smog called “Put Your Phone Down.”

10575366_10204674805333844_4491881722162368424_oWhat tips do you have to not check your phone while you’re with your family?


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