Admittedly, when I first heard an article came out saying that a “rise in child injuries may be linked to distracted parents” due to spending too much time on our gadgets, such as texting, I hid under my chair as another one of my kids fell out of a tree. Kidding… kind of… Truth be told, like most people, I depend on my phone a lot and am actually able to spend more time with my kids because of it. For example, I know I won’t miss that all important returned email that I’ve been waiting for from work because I can quickly check my phone to see if it finally came through even though I’m technically “off the clock.” Also, I can be in touch with the parent who currently has my child over for a play date in the event they need me to come get them asap. And I can check Facebook in case someone somewhere is having more fun than me at that moment, er, um, I mean make pediatrician appointments.
As you may have figured out by now, I am guilty of checking my phone too often while with my kids. Breezy Mama turned to child and family psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, who is an Expert in Parents Magazine’s “Ask Our Experts” column, to discuss the repercussions for the kids when parents are too dependent on their devices (iPhone, iPad, SmartPhone, computer, etc.) and, so that our children can get sweet revenge on OUR screen time, what are some guidelines for adults and more.
Though the article gives the example that a daughter broke her arm while playing in the backyard and the mom felt bad for sending that, “one more email,” I think kids should be able to explore in the backyard without constant supervision. However, I AM concerned with how kids feel when mom is checking her phone (for texts, emails, etc.) versus paying attention to the child. Are there repercussions for a child when mom seems more into her texts than paying attention to the kids?
Many diligent parents, like you, are sometimes coordinating with another parent who has your child over for a play date, making a pediatrician appointment, have to answer a work related email, etc. and need to keep their phones handy. Those are likely not the parents referred to in the recent article saying how more kids are getting hurt because parents aren’t paying attention while texting, checking emails, and making phone calls. I think it is highly unfair and probably inaccurate to say that more kids are getting physically hurt because their parent’s attention is split and they provide neglectful supervision. That is, by far, a stretch. However, I do hear regular moanful complaints from children about their parents being on cell phones, computers, iPads, and electronic devices splitting their attention and focus. Your children would much rather you go make your call or text in another room. If you need to work go for it and don’t feel guilty. But, when you are with your child – really be with them with 100% focused attention.
What are some boundaries I should set for myself to give my child undivided attention?
Make a big hoopla with your child saying, “Mommy is turning off her cell phone and putting away until after our special play time.” This will penetrate your child’s sense of self and self-esteem. We, children and adults, all want the same thing…. to be seen, acknowledged, validated, and accepted – flaws and all!!!
Watch a short clip of Breezy Mama discussing parents being too distracted by their cellphones, etc. on Fox 5 San Diego around minute 2 on the video here:
About Dr. Frances Walfish:
Frances Walfish, Psy.D. is the foremost Beverly Hills child and family psychotherapist. Her caring approach, exuberant style, humor, and astute insights have earned her a sterling reputation among colleagues and national media alike. A frequent guest on top-tier TV programs, including NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and KABC-TV in Los Angeles, The Doctors, CBS and often appearing in major publications such as Parents Magazine, Family Circle and Woman’s Day, Dr. Fran continues to lead the field with her expert insights and innovative strategies for parents, children and couples.
Her current book, The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child from Palgrave Macmillan’s/St. Martin’s Press, December 7, 2010, is receiving acclaimed reviews. William Morris Endeavor and Lake Paradise Entertainment are presently collaborating with Dr. Fran to produce a television series offering therapeutic guidance and help to families in America. More information on Dr. Fran can be found online at DrFranWalfish.com.
To order Dr. Walfish’s book ($11.56 on Amazon), click here.