The legacy effects of our current parenting skills will only be fully appreciated once our children have matured. Then, the positive – and less positive attributes we have taught will be that legacy. This week, guest writer Hilary Smith shares her research and views on this most valuable of topics.
Technology and devices have become so entrenched in our daily lives that it is hard to imagine our world without them. As parents, we are connected at high rates and use our devices to stay up-to-date on work emails and juggling the demands of a busy family schedule.
While technology is meant to connect our families, researchers are starting to observe how technology is actually hindering our ability to parent. It’s difficult to imagine putting down your phone, but there is at least one compelling reason we should take a break from our devices – your child.
While our devices do have purpose, we need to make sure they aren’t interfering with a child’s development. Putting technology ahead of our children’s needs can cause emotional scars and promote physical ailments to surface. Powering down might be difficult at first, but being more intentional with your parenting can ultimately benefit your child.
Ten Reasons to Put Down Your Smartphone
Listed below are ten reasons to put down our devices for our child’s well-being:
1. A parent’s cell phone use can trigger anxiety or depression. We are involuntarily sending our children the message that they are not important enough to warrant our full attention and has been shown to cause feelings of neglect in children.
2. Children learn from face-to-face interaction with adults. Cooing and talking to babies might appear to be a waste of time, but that is how children develop communication skills. Conversations are a crucial part of child development, and research has linked the amount of words a child hears to their ultimate failure or success.
3. Multitasking is not effective. Today researchers are proclaiming that society has been fed a lie and multitasking is inefficient. Doing one thing at a time will reduce anxiety and allow you to live in the moment. You will be more productive and get to enjoy your children in the process!
4. Driving distracted increases the chances for accidents. Whether you are simply talking on your phone or typing a quick text, you have a slower response time. This inherently puts you and your family at risk. Recent data shows that cell phone use is a factor in 26 percent of all car crashes!
5. Cell phones emit radiation. While there has been a lot of controversy regarding cell phones and their link to cancer, it is important to realise that our phones come with warning labels hidden in the manuals. Experts suggest using hands-free devices as much as possible and, if you are expecting, it might be wise to rethink how you carry or store your phone in a pocket near the developing fetus. Parents should err on the side of caution and avoid exposing a child’s developing brain or body for long periods of time.
6. Social media has been linked to promoting narcissism in children. As parents snap photos and update every milestone, we might be sending subliminal messages to the child that the world revolves around them. As a child ages, they might begin to require constant feedback or judge themselves against other people’s digital presence. This can fuel a sense of entitlement and lack of empathy for others.
7. Internet and Smartphone addictions are easily formed. A child’s brain undergoes a surge of growth during adolescence that naturally predisposes them to forming addictions to stimulants. If children are exposed to Smartphones and other technologies at a young age through our use, we might be setting them up for a life of addiction.
8. Our reliance on Smartphones and other devices can hinder the ability to bond with small children. According to Attachment Bonding Theory, it is vital for children to form a close relationship with their caregivers. Attachment fosters brain development, positive interpersonal relationships, and lifelong skills needed to succeed. Smartphones and devices have the power to interfere with this process.
9. Children learn habits by watching us. Our sons and daughters are learning from the example we set. Do we want our kids to worry about social media likes or view stream endless hours of videos?
As parents, we are our children’s greatest influence.
10. Relying on our Smartphones to find information might hinder a child’s ability to learn how to navigate in a world without wifi. Many children don’t know how to use a phone book, use a map, or alphabetise words in a dictionary. One of the main reasons our kids haven’t mastered these life skills is due to our fascination with quick online searches. We need to step back and make sure we are arming our children for success because every now and then we lose an Internet signal.
Take Time to Focus
As parents, we need to challenge ourselves to power down and take time to focus on our children every day.
What is one thing you will do today to show your children they matter?
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).