A Balancing Act: Technology and Parenting

5/6/2016

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Photo via TheBabyPost

We are surrounded by technology in all aspects of our lives these days. As you read this article here, you are engaging with technology, whether it’s your phone, tablet or computer. Technology has developed so quickly and taken over our lives rapidly, meaning research is limited and constantly emerging on the effects, specifically long term, that technology may have on us. There is one thing that is certain, the more you are looking at your devices the less your are interacting with your children.

Back in November, Caroline Bologna wrote an article for the Huffington Post after hearing about an “experiment” a California mom tried. While the mother watched her 2-year old twin sons, she counted the number of times they looked at her. The total number of tally marks in the short period of time the boys were playing added up to 28!

“As I sat quietly in the corner of the room I tallied how many times they looked at me for various reasons: to see if I saw their cool tricks, to seek approval or disapproval for what they were doing, and to watch my reactions… I couldn’t help but wonder if I was on some sort of technology what message would I have been sending? They may wondered if the World Wide Web was more important than them.”

This simple experiment shows, the way we interact with technology will have some sort of effect on our children. Studies have shown that many parents, up to 70%, are distracted by technology during meal time, a time when most families may be sharing their only moments together for the whole day and a time that should be reserved for connecting with one another, in real time, face to face. From a young age, babies will look to their parents for a response and begin to mimic. They will start to mirror facial expressions soon after they are born. If our babies and children see us engaging with our technology, rather than with them, the outcome cannot be positive.

Of course, technology is so engrained in all of our lives and it will, without a doubt, be an even bigger part of our children’s lives. If children learn many behaviors from their parents, it is important we teach them appropriate behaviors and habits when it comes to tech. It definitely has an important place in our lives, but engaging with it mindfully will set a strong foundation for when and where to use technology. Having specific times of day or places/activities where technology is used, then put it away (out of sight out of mind) for all other times of day, is just one example of an intentional way to interact with our gadgets. The next time you are at the park or playing on the floor with your child and reach for your phone, just because, think again. Why am I doing this and how is it going to affect my child? A child who sees a parent choose to engage with technology over him/her sends a message that the technology is more important. This surely can have an adverse effect on many aspects of a child’s experience and personality. And good luck getting your teenager to put their phone away at dinner time if that is the behavior they saw you have when they were young! Food for thought.

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