ARE WE DISCONNECTING FROM OUR KIDS?
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
I have shared my concern a number of times regarding kids spending so much time on their hand-held gadgets that they are losing the art of face-to-face communication. Even within the home kids text one another if they are not in the same room. Will they lose the function of their legs next? I have even seen kids texting their friends while eating their dinner at home. Who would ever have thought it would come to this?
Perhaps now would be a good time to look at our own habits. Are WE ignoring our children because WE are so pre-occupied on our mobile devices? It is amazing how one little ping from our cell phone will cause our curiosity to peek to such an extent that we just have to see who it was and what they want immediately. Perhaps the disconnect habit started a long time ago with the invention of the standard telephone! As soon as it rang, we had to respond otherwise the noise of the constant ringing drove us crazy.
The question is, are we guilty of disconnecting with our kids? We would like to say, ‘No,’ but of course that is not the truth. I clearly remember enjoying a good read in the afternoons when my kids were asleep. If they woke up and wanted me to feed them snacks when I was at a particularly interesting part in the book, I would get really annoyed. I realized that this was not good mothering on my part and I would reluctantly put the book down.
There are many, many things that create a ‘disconnect’ with our kids e.g. when we talk on the phone for ages. Every mother will say that when they are on the phone, their kids ALWAYS want their attention. So, maybe the habit did start with the standard telephone way back when. Once we get talking we forget what is going on around us. Even now it pings in our pocket or purse and we just have to check it out.
Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician specializing in child development in Massachusetts, made the following observations.
"They learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to
regulate them," she says. "They learn by watching us, how to have a
conversation, how to read other people's facial expressions. And if that's not
happening, children are missing out on important development milestones."
It has been said that when parents concentrate more on their mobile devices than their children (and they would never want to admit it), it has deep psychological effects.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair states.
"We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything or any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”
Dr Steiner-Adair says that we don't know exactly how much these mini moments of disconnect between a parent and child affect the child in the long term. But based on the stories she hears, she suggests that parents think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids.
I am not saying that disengagement with our kids has not been happening over a long period of time. What I am saying is that new technology has exacerbated the situation greatly. While all this communication technology is saving US ‘time’ it is robbing our children of their most precious commodity, OUR time. How about recapturing ‘eyeball time’. That means both you and the kids put down the mobile devices and just talk and listen to one another. It is amazing what you will find out about how your kids think and feel, their aspirations and frustrations. It is surprising just how far the ‘eyeball’ concept has drifted away from our lives.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out our website www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com