Waiting for the library to open I watched a mum repeatedly brush off her whinging young son who was clearly bored. Instead of interacting with her son to pass the time, she thrust a toy car in his face without even looking up from her phone.
Now I say this purely as an observation and without judgement because I’ve been there. Thousands of time before. As a mum of three, working from home online, I often find myself fobbing off the kids as I scroll, type or skype. And that doesn’t even factor in the time I spend on social media recreationally.
However watching this interaction (or lack there of) made me realise how problematic device use is when it comes to our role as parents.
For all I know the woman was trying to send of a quick couple of work emails, or dealing with a family crisis, before she spent time with her son in the library. However, I’m sure the only message the young boy received was: “Mum’s phone is more important that me.”
If this is what he was feeling, he’s certainly not alone. A recent report from the Growing up in Queensland Project, which surveyed around 7000 children between the ages of 4-18yo, tells us young people cite parents being distracted by their phones as a perceived barrier to them getting support with issues such as bullying.
The report also tells us that only 68% of respondents felt they get to spend enough time with parents, family or carers. That means that a staggering one third of kids DON’T feel they get enough time with the most important people in their lives.
This is not the first research (and definitely won’t be the last) which suggests that technology interrupts our connection with our children. Studies such as this one indicate that competing for our attention with technology can lead to behavioural problems in children such as tantrums and acting out. My little mate at the library is a prime example.
Yet, ironically the major concern for most parents is their children’s amount of screentime. It seems like we might need to look at those reflective screens just a little harder and think about what we are modelling for our kids.
How hypocritical do I look telling my son to put his phone down when doing his chores while I cook dinner scrolling through Facebook?
I’m certainly not proud of that fact my phone is an extension of my arm and I definitely don’t want my kids to ever think it is more important to me than them.
Is this you?
Do you feel guilt about your phone use?
Do you worry about being addicted to your device?
Do you want to learn how to be a better technology role model for your kids?
If you answered yes to these questions, you need to watch this video.