Technology is great, but disconnecting can help us connect with our kids.
Kids growing up today will never truly know what it's like to wait weeks for blurry pictures to be developed, or to use the Dewey Decimal System rather than Google when they need to answer a question, or how to memorize all of your friends' phone numbers. But, perhaps most unfortunate of all, many of them also won't know what it's like to have family time that isn't interrupted by a phone.
If we think our children fail to notice this, one message from a second-grade student in Louisiana about how much he despises his parents' phones serves as a big wake-up call. "I don't like the phone because my [parents] are on their phone every day," wrote one student when asked what's one thing he wished hadn't been invented. "A phone is sometimes a really bad [habit]. I hate my mom's phone and I wish she never had one."
In posting the eye-opening letter to Facebook, the boy's teacher said four of her 21 students had similar answers. In the now-private Facebook post, she added the hashtags #getoffyourphones and #listentoyourkids. As hard as that may be to hear, it's time we get as serious about moderating our own screen time.
According to a 2017 study published in the journal Child Development, heavy usage of phones, laptops and the like among parents is associated with "suboptimal parent-child interactions." When these "technoferences" were common, the researchers found that children displayed more restlessness and anger outbursts.
Besides that, keeping our noses in our phones isn't setting the right example for our children—as Ariana Huffington previously told Motherly. "It's hard to convince children and especially teens to look up from their screens if their parents are buried in them," she said during a February interview. "There's nothing wrong—in fact, it's very healthy—to be open and honest with your teens that setting boundaries is a struggle for you, too."
She suggested setting guidelines for phone use that apply to everyone in the household, such as no phones in the bedroom, reading paper books and having phone-free mealtimes.
If that feels challenging, keep the words of that wise second-grader in mind: For all the ways phones seem to make life easier, it doesn't mean they always make life better.