Do you think you are a distracted parent? Chances are, you don’t. But the truth is we are a generation of tech-distracted parents.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself absentmindedly scrolling through Facebook while your kid is playing at the park.
Or maybe you took a photo of your child’s little-league game for Instagram, before accidentally losing yourself in your home feed and missing your child striking out the best batter on the opposition team.
It’s happened to all of us at one point or another. But what effect is it having on our children?
What Are the Consequences of Distracted Parenting?
Since the current generation of parents are the first to bring their children up in the age of smartphones, tablets and wireless technology that seemingly connects anything to everything, research into tech-distracted parenting is still in its infancy.
However, the Journal of Child Development recently discovered that parents who are frequently distracted by technology have children with higher rates of misbehavior, attention-seeking and aggression.
What’s more, children of distracted parents are more likely to go on to develop mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
While different types of technology can provide a distraction, it seems that our cell phones are the main culprit.
Why Our Phones Are the Worst
In case you were wondering, the average American checks their phone at least once every 12 minutes.
Apple has unveiled similar statistics, with the average iPhone user unlocking their phone 80 times a day. Yes, that’s 80 times a day.
These checks are seldom short either.
What may start with reading a Whatsapp message, descends into 10 minutes scrolling through Facebook, before reading and consequently deleting several promotional emails from our inbox.
Before we know it, one simple notification has robbed us of 30 minutes of quality time with our kids.
It’s no wonder our children our suffering the consequences. In our rush to keep up with what’s going on with the world, we’re accidentally ignoring our own children.
So how can you improve, and curb the distractions provided by our phones and other technology?
How to Avoid Becoming a Distracted Parent
Luckily, there are several ways to limit how much your tech can distract you, leaving you to spend much higher-quality time with your children:
Admit There’s a Problem –
Just like with any behavioral issue, you have to acknowledge it exists and make an effort to put a stop to it. If you think you don’t suffer from phone-addiction, try and go without it for 48 hours, only using it to text or call in case of emergencies. You may change your mind!
Practice Mindful Phone Use –
Take the time to think about your phone use. Is your child present, is what’s taking place on your phone really that important? By becoming conscience of your over-use of your phone and other devices you can drastically reduce your use of them.
Turn Off Notifications –
As is so often the case, our over-indulgence starts with a simple notification. If your phone doesn’t make a noise, light up or vibrate when a notification comes through then you are less likely to pick it up.
Don’t Bring It –
Obviously, this doesn’t mean leaving your phone at home when you head out, since you could need it in an emergency. No, this means leaving it in a safe place (such as the car) if you’re going to park with the kids or watching their sports game so you can be more present. This way you have access to it in case of an emergency, but aren’t capable of being distracted by it.
Create an Electronic Jail –
A tactic that’s worked brilliantly for me is creating an electronic jail. Essentially this is just a basket you can put your phone when you get home until you’ve put your little one to sleep. It means you still get to binge, but crucially don’t miss out on important bonding moments with your son or daughter.
Don’t waste precious time
Technology has become an essential part of our lives, and being without our cell phone sometimes feels like we’ve lost one of our limbs.
But our new way of life is starting to have a detrimental effect on our children, and we need to make changes to ensure we give them the attention we deserve.
Start by becoming more mindful of your use of technology, and in particular, your smartphone, when around with your children.
Then start taking advantage of some of my suggested methods to avoid becoming unnecessarily distracted at the expense of your children.
How have you dealt with your addiction to technology? Post what’s worked for you in the comments below!