Parents, put down your smartphones!

Image by Elvert Barnes Under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

I took Elliott to the park the other day. I sat and watched him squeal as he ran through the water fountains and got the cold water in his face. Every so often he would look over at me just to check I was there and to give me a smile as if to say “Look Mum, I’m having the best time.”

After getting a bit sick of the water, the inquisitive child that he is, decided to toddle off to the other side of the park. As I chased him and then walked him back over to where I could keep an eye on him, I saw a couple of other young children playing on the playground and having a wonderful time. They were accompanied by who I’m guessing was their father. The father did not take his eyes of his smart phone the whole time, I’m surprised he didn’t walk into a pole. I see this all the time when I go to the park with Elliott, parents aimlessly following their kids around with their eyes plastered to their smart phones. Surely for the 30 minutes or so that you are there, your smart phone or whoever or whatever is on the other end can wait?

The amount of times Elliott calls out to me to get my attention because he wants me to watch him on the swing or see him go down the slide or because he wants my help is endless. If I had my face in my smart phone, it’s quite likely I’d miss that all together. What would Elliott think? Mummy’s ignoring me again? It must be OK to be on smart phones all the time?  It’s not only that, kids can run away so quickly that you have to keep an eye on them all the time and isn’t it nice to just take the time out sometimes and savor the moments? If we had our faces in our Smart Phones every time we took our kids somewhere to play, we’d miss out on heaps.

And I hear people say “But before Smart Phones my parents didn’t really watch me, they were always doing something else and I’m ok”, well I feel sorry for those people and their parents.

I think it’s all about balance. I’m not saying never use your smart phones around your kids because there will be times when you need to take an important call or you may work from home whilst you have your kids in your care,  it’s just how technology is these days and for which I am thankful otherwise I wouldn’t be blogging and writing. I guess what I’m saying is, give them your full attention when they need it the most, make one on one time and remember that you can’t get the time back. Show your kids you’re interested, that you’re watching, that you’re listening, that you’re present and that you’re a good role model. It’s good for you and it’s good for them.

How do you feel about smartphone use around your children?

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT
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Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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22 Comments

  1. February 11, 2014 / 12:00 am

    I agree completey that you should play and waste the moment but, sometimes I can get work done while my daughter plays so that we can get out of the house, she is happy and I can meet deadlines. I love that my smart phones means I am not stuck at home to work and when I do have to do things on the go, I can. I do keep an eye on my daughter but I also let her have time to play on her own. If she comes over to chat, I put it down. It is a tough balance.

    • February 11, 2014 / 2:15 am

      Of course Eleise, I definitely didn’t mean never use your smartphone and refer to the fact that parents need to use them if they work when their children are in their care. I’ve worked from home and had to do it too πŸ™‚

  2. February 11, 2014 / 2:23 am

    We have lost the ability to be able to sit and do nothing. I see so many parents sitting at the park when their smart phones as their kids run around. I agree, we should be enjoying these moments and being present. Before long the kids are teens and don’t want anything to do with us!

    • February 11, 2014 / 3:03 am

      Yes Jodi, I see it all the time too. It’s such a shame really. It’s scary how fast they grow up and technology seems to making life hurry up too much too.

  3. February 11, 2014 / 2:43 am

    I absolutely concur, before smart phones our lives weren’t nearly as hectic and we could just sit and, as Jodi said, “do nothing”.
    I was in a cafe recently and the mother next to me didn’t say a word to her daughter, but used her phone the whole time. The little girl ate her cake and drank her milkshake silently and I couldn’t help but observe disconsolately, and it gave me such a pang of sadness.

    I make a point of leaving my phone at home some days, it’s character building! But before I sound too insufferably pompous, I do find it difficult. πŸ™‚

    • February 11, 2014 / 3:06 am

      Oh that’s so sad Lee-Anne.

      Yes, it can be very difficult and I’m not perfect either. When I worked from home, I found it very hard to balance and often found myself pulled towards my phone when it was really time for me to spend with my son. It was all about finding work/life balance – time for kids, time for work.

  4. February 11, 2014 / 3:00 am

    You’re right. You really are. Too many of us – myself included – are addicted. It’s just a quick check of this, or that, and then we become engrossed. Distracted. I too have heard a little girl beg her Mumma to put away her phone to help her with something, only to be ignored. I felt terrible for the poor thing. It really made me reflect on my own phone use. I’m much more mindful of it now.

  5. February 11, 2014 / 3:01 am

    Hihi, I totally agree with what you said but sadly, that is the scenario I see around in Singapore too. I bring my kids to the playground every couple of days but either I see them with the helpers who gather in one corner to chit chat or with parents who are mostly stuck with their phones and sitting on the benches. Personally, I don’t like where technology has taken us, ironically, it’s meant to bring people closer but I feel it has made families more distant. Found you from iBOT.

    Cheers,
    Summer
    http://www.ahappymum.com

  6. February 11, 2014 / 3:03 am

    Sad isn’t it?! I see this all the time. Worse is a table full of people at a restaurant – all engaged elsewhere on their mobiles instead of with each other!

    • February 11, 2014 / 3:11 am

      Yep, that’s a shocker. They’re addictive, but it’s just about reminding yourself ‘it can wait, it can wait!’

  7. February 11, 2014 / 4:16 am

    It certainly is a balance, and one I’m trying to be much more mindful of. I often turn my phone to silent during the day now & try to only check it when the boys are asleep.

  8. February 11, 2014 / 4:57 am

    I am totally addicted to my iphone, BUT I don’t have to stare at it 24/7. I am trying so hard to teach my teens that life exists on the other side of the iphone. They are banned at the dinner table and when we are actually having a conversation. xx N πŸ™‚

  9. February 11, 2014 / 5:11 am

    Absolutely agree! I find my hubby has a hard time doing nothing, and often looks very bored as a consequence. I had morning tea out with my littlest man today and made sure I sat my phone up on the table with my purse and not in my hand! He is a little spunk and the conversation is always interesting! #teamIBOT

  10. February 11, 2014 / 9:23 am

    I have all sorts of guilt about this BUT I am now turning off my phone more and more around my kid. Especially when out and about with them, best to leave in the car and actually connect with my kids. We all just want to cram so much in that we forget to just ‘be’ with our kids x

  11. February 11, 2014 / 10:32 am

    Yeah I’m with Em and have a built of guilt over this, but I’m definitely conscious of it and working on it. I don’t want to be that mum who can’t not be on her phone

  12. February 11, 2014 / 4:11 pm

    Love this post! I turn my phone off in the car and really enjoy the conversations (or quiet!). Because is it really that important to be on the phone? No, it is not!

  13. February 12, 2014 / 11:25 am

    I was sitting in a psychologist’s office yesterday while I waited for my daughter who is suffering some anxiety issues (I was allowed in at the start and the end of the consultation). Everyone else in the waiting room (presumedly patients) were on their smart phones – I couldn’t help but think of them distracting themselves from the problems that brought them there. I pulled out my journal and started to write about the experience, ignoring my phone. It was like I was honouring the importance of my daughter seeing a psychologist for the first time and recording what felt real not focusing on something, somewhere else. I guess these moments make us realise to be there, actually there.

  14. February 12, 2014 / 11:30 am

    I was in a psychologist’s office yesterday as my daughter had her first ever appointment (for anxiety issues). I went in for the start and end of the consultation and for the rest of the time I was in the waiting room. I watched the other people, all of whom were on their smart phones – perhaps distracting themselves from the problems that had brought the there. I pulled out my journal and started writing about the experience, as if to honour the importance of my daughter being there, and her anxiety and my feelings as her Mum. We lose precious presence, even in times of stress, when we chose technology and ‘connection’ over real feelings and relationships.

  15. February 15, 2014 / 5:54 am

    It’s rare that I take it with me, to be honest. I’m notorious for forgetting my phone! I actually don’t like being contactable and working everywhere I go – maybe that’s because my office is the Internet? I’d be more guilty of having my nose in a book.. which is probably the same thing?!?! x

  16. February 16, 2014 / 1:17 am

    I do take that phone with me every where but to be honest I am often embarrassed to get it out as my kids are quick to pay out on me. They do a good job of keeping me in check πŸ˜‰ xx