Smartphones: Just How “Smart” are They When it Comes to Raising Children?

Positive ParentingI just stumbled across a thought-provoking article about raising children that really caught my attention, Parents on Smartphones Ignore Their Kids, Study Finds.  After spotting this headline, I just had to dig deeper.  The article describes a study recently conducted by researchers from the Boston Medical Center.  In this study, researchers observed and documented 55 families in fast food restaurants.  A whopping 40 of the 55 families observed in the study were engrossed in using their Smartphones!  While the study was particularly small, it does demonstrate something we see all the time—parents ignoring their kids by smothering themselves in the time-suckers we fondly call Smartphones.  But I fail to see what’s so “smart” about a device that has been responsible for perpetuating the recent breakdown in parent-child relationships.

Positive parenting and “Smartphones” have very little in common.  Have you noticed the disturbing trend that is occurring at dinner tables and restaurants from coast to coast?  The disengaged parent, Smartphone in hand, ignores their child during dinner in favor of checking email or posting a pic of their new lawn furniture on Facebook.  Are you as disgusted by this as I am?

Some interesting cases were highlighted in the article.  These ranged from kids singing “Jingle Bells, Batman smells” in a desperate attempt to get dad’s attention to other kids passively eating without any interaction from their parents at all!  How very sad we have come to this as a culture!

While I agree that Smartphones do provide parents with some, and I emphasize the word some here, possible opportunities to connect with their children, such as sending quick “I love you texts” or sharing photos of the day’s adventures, overall it seems that our culture has “taken a mile when given an inch” once again.  From what I see, and I bet you feel the same way, the Smartphone has unleashed some major damage to parent-child relationships and the promotion of positive parenting as a whole.

How do you fight back against the relationship damage caused by Smartphones and encourage some positive parenting of your own?

Start by simply taking the time to communicate with your child.  Yeah, I mean a real-life, face to face verbal interaction!  I know, I know.  This may be so outdated to you Smartphone addicts out there but it is a vital component in any healthy parent-child relationship.  Share a meal together and talk about how your child’s day went.  Take a walk around the block and talk about the difficult class he’s struggling in.  The list goes on and on.

Here’s a few suggestions you can use as a parent to let your child know you love him without the use of an electronic device!

  • Take your child grocery shopping with you.  This is an awesome way to spend quality parent-child time together and get a major weekly chore done!  Depending on age, make your child in charge of a task such as checking items off of the list or picking out a special cereal or snack.
  • Let your child help you cook a meal.  Stirring the bowl or collecting items out of the cabinet are simple tasks your child can help with.  This simple task can do wonders toward building a positive parenting dynamic in your home.  Ever have the vegetable wars?  I bet you have.  Did you know that children are far more likely to try a new food if they had a hand in cooking the meal?  Positive parenting in action here!
  • Wash the dinner dishes together.  This is a great way to top off a family dinner together.  Use washing dishes together as an opportunity to ask your child about his day or follow up on a conversation from earlier in the dinner conversation.
  • Let your child help you sort the laundry.  For younger children, you can use this as an opportunity to teach colors.  Ask them to sort whites in one pile, ask them to find the blue shirts, brown socks, etc.  With a little creativity, you can turn an otherwise boring, mundane household chore into a fun family activity that helps with raising your children to be responsible adults and promotes a healthy parent-child relationship at the same time.
  • Build a play house with couch cushions and bed sheets and play inside with your child.  This can make for awesome Sunday afternoon entertainment.  And hey, just kick back and try to be a kid yourself.  Some laughter with your child will go a long way toward deepening your relationship in the years to come!

Behavior Management Coaching can help parents establish positive parenting strategies and promote stronger parent-child relationships in their home.  We use concise, proven interventions to reduce parent stress and promote healthy relationships and family interactions.  Talk to us today.