Is ‘Technoference’ affecting your parenting?
Are you always checking your phone?
Do you find it hard to turn it off?
Do you check your phone at the dinner table or in restaurants?
Are you on your phone at the school gates, trains, coffee shops ?
So, the BIG QUESTION IS….
Is your child’s sulking, whining, hyperactivity, temper tantrums and becoming easily frustrated linked to YOUR technology use?
According to the world’s first study of its kind parents’ excessive use of mobile phones has been linked to increasing children’s behaviour problems.
40% of Mums and 32% of Dads admitted some form of phone addiction such as being unable to resist checking messages, always thinking about incoming calls or texts or simply feeling they used it too much.
This led to what the researchers dubbed “technoference” in their relationships with their children where their everyday interactions were interrupted by digital or mobile devices whether during face-to-face conversations or at meal or play times.
I see it everywhere so it’s no surprise that there’s been a significant decline in the quality of interactions between children and their parents when they have their phones out.
Manchester is to become the first authority in the UK to launch a public health campaign to tackle the breakdown in communication between parents and children caused by smart phones and other digital technology.
Health chiefs say children’s speech and language development is under threat from parents spending too long on their mobile phones or being distracted by listening to digital devices on their headphones.
“You go around Manchester and Salford and see unbelievable attempts by children to communicate with the adult they are with but who is oblivious to them because they have headphones on. I find it very distressing,” said Michelle Morris, one of Britain’s leading speech and language therapists and a consultant at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.
“If you are walking down a street and listening to music, you can’t really pay attention to what your child is doing. Unless the child says something very loudly or pulls on the adult, there’s no chance to communicate.
“The attempt to communicate goes unrewarded and the child could, in time, learn that there’s no point in talking. For little children, it is these multiple interactions with an adult through which it learns language and how to speak.”
The campaign will include nudge-style “texts” to parents suggesting how and when they could talk to their children such as at bath time, advice on when to ditch mobiles whether at meal-times or before going to bed as well as training for health visitors to provide guidance to families.
I know you don’t need more guilt but how about a ‘Pause to Ponder’ moment?
Unlike our kids, however, we actually have reasons for looking at screens don’t we from emails, schedules & calendars, research, updates, shopping, messaging, planning – sometimes even calling to speak to a real person:)
Again, without guilt or judgment – we also look at our screens for entertainment, distraction & down time & those are parental needs too, but we need as parents to balance that and step back to consciously think about what we are doing with our phones and how it may be impacting on our children’s self esteem, confidence, verbal skills and their sociability.
Are we using technology as electric babysitters and ignoring our children?
Is our phone dependence a symptom of our busy lives & buzzing minds or are we becoming addicted because the devices themselves are designed to trigger addiction-like behaviours in many people.
Just read this article on Quartz
There’s plenty of research out there describing the dopamine effect—a neurotransmitter that sends pulses to your brain’s reward and pleasure centre’s with every new text alert, tweet or Instagram reminder—and the widespread addiction to that momentary pleasure, which has been compared to cravings for nicotine, cocaine, and gambling.
The ‘Pause to Ponder Moment’ has to be what sort of role model are we being to our children and what damage are we doing by making our phones more important than them?
It’s becoming difficult to ignore that ‘technoference’is having a huge impact on our health, wellbeing, and social and family relationships.
Here are some practical tips to help
David Hill of the American Academy of Paediatrics said that positive parenting practices around technology include role-modelling.
Demonstrate your own awareness and ability to put your phone down in front of your children by putting it away during meals or whenever they need your attention. Create eye to eye contact, stop what you’re doing and listen attentively to what your child is saying to you. Make them feel important, significant and that you care about them.
Think About Your Actual Phone Needs
Smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.
We all have technology-related needs. Many of us legitimately need to use or check our phones. But most of us get on the phone in front of our kids more than we need to. Write a list of your important everyday phone activities & stick to those. Just for this week think about how, when & how often you use your phone in front of your children. If you don’t like what you discover, don’t beat yourself up, just make some small changes that will make a big difference over time.
Give Your Children Ten Minutes of Your Full Undivided Attention
It’s simple: Children spell love T-I-M-E so give your children 10 minutes of pure, undivided attention twice a day.
Play with them, read to them, laugh with them, eat with them, listen to them.
Put your phone on silent, pop it away and interact, engage and have fun with your children – you will reap the benefits in love, connection, better behaviour and you’ll be building happy memories that will last a lifetime.
Notice Your Triggers
We automatically reach for our phones in certain situations.
Pay attention to these cues or triggers.
When do you automatically reach for your phone?
What can you do differently during those times, besides look at your phone?
Or how can you change the way you’re using your phone in those moments to include your kids?
Turn off Notifications
Use An App To Monitor Your Usage
CHECKY is a simple app that tells you how many times a day do you check your phone. You’ll be surprised.
Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.
Moment Family: Manage your family’s screen time from your own phone and set up time for your entire family to be screen-free using family dinner time.