A recent article in U.S. News features how parents are increasingly distracted by their mobile devices, thus posing problems and risks for children. The article points to a study by The American Academy of Pediatrics found that parents distracted by mobile devices at playgrounds fail to supervise activities adequately and it results in playground injuries. According to the AAP report the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that, “More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year for playground-related injuries.”
No doubt distracted living is not a healthy thing. When parents do not regulate their own screen time, it creates two problems for kids:
- Sets the wrong example and children are at risk of too much screen time which is also associated with ADD, anxiety, poor sleep quality, and poor school performance, and
- It sends signals to kids that they are not important or worthy of your quality attention. This can result in a spiritual and emotional trauma.
Brain science tells us that screens are seductive and addictive; it is a consequence of how our brains are wired with the reward hormones stimulated by interactive devices. And parents are dealing with a lot of “time pressure.” We are living task-oriented lifestyles juggling schedules that seem to be running our lives and when we feel like we don’t have control, and the screen (devices, computers and tv) can be an easy escape that keeps us in a pressure cooker of feeling like we don’t have time to give ourselves and our children quality attention.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:34
Limiting screen time means giving more quality attention to your child
So if you find yourself feeling stretched beyond your human capacity to meet all the demands, and seeking escape in your social media, perhaps you could try a different approach. Don’t think about limiting your screen time. Rather think about managing your attention, which is your power and it is a premium resource for you and your children.
Do not always equate more time with more attention. Rather it is a matter of the heart; it is quite simply prioritization. Your attention is where your heart is, so there will be your treasure. Children are craving your attention, and they do not require endless amounts of time. They simply need to be assured that they matter to you by how you pay attention. Give them a signal or some protocol for interrupting you while you are working or accomplishing a family duty so they can know, they can have no doubt that you will give them undivided attention by following your direction. Below are some tips for attention management with your child:
- Be conscious of whether or not you are giving your child undivided attention.
- Develop teamwork around chores
- Become interested in what interests your child. Ask them about it without an agenda to influence, but rather with the aim to understand how their childhood is informing them. And then you can impart your wisdom by asking them if they want to you know about a situation or circumstance.
- Get “techie” with it. If you are not savvy about social media, find a tech savvy friend to help you set up an account and have your child show you how they use it (Facebook, MySpace, games).
- Designate a time in the evening to turn off cyber technology making family members available for face time.
Related Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner feature: Are digital natives starved for attention?
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
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Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.