Parents distracted by their smartphones…
How many of us have felt compelled to check and respond to messages or other activities on our computer devices when we’re supposed to be paying attention to our kids?
Lots of hands are being raised (virtually) I’m sure! This study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found you’re not alone.
Recently, while on vacation my husband and I were sitting on our balcony enjoying the beautiful ocean view, palm trees, and sandy beach. Two young children with a soccer ball appeared, with their Dad in tow. Mom was no where to be seen and he appeared to be on Dad duty.
Both kids were eager for his attention. “Daddy watch this, Daddy watch me!” Daddy was looking at his smartphone and completely engrossed. He occasionally looked up from his smartphone to respond to his son or daughter. Their vie for attention escalated, along with their risky behavior since they knew Dad wasn’t paying attention.
From our vantage point it was all too sad and a bit dangerous. As they played the youngest child, a little boy of about three years old, climbed atop of a boat that clearly he shouldn’t have been on at all. Finally when the daughter made him aware of this by shrieking, he got up and acted like a Dad. Mom appeared shortly there after and he immediately put his phone away, before she saw it. The kids then climbed onto a hammock and Mom and Dad pushed them to squeals of delight.
Bad Dad? Hmmm, that’s not for me to decide. He may not think that using his smartphone to stay connected is a problem. But that connectivity may be causing a disconnect with his kids! Children need their parent’s attention!
Many children’s mental health experts say that “focusing on your phone and not your kids may be a form of neglect. For example, “children who constantly see their parents playing with smartphones at the dinner table can feel neglected, insecure or not worth your time“, Saltz said. As a result kids don’t see themselves as a priority. This can lead to emotional scars, because basic trust is established through the bond that is created between parent and child.
When kids are feeling ignored when their parents are being distracted by their cellphones, some kids will up the ante and escalate their attempts to get attention. They may also act out with negative behavior to get their parents to take notice. What happens when that child gives up trying to get their parent’s attention? You may find your child becoming more rebellious,
Kids are only kids for a short period of time. It takes a full time interactive parent to make sure their children are emotionally nourished and establish healthy relationships.