"A common lament I hear from parents I work with is that there is less and less quality time spent with their girls as they grow up. In between school, work, homework, activities and friends, it's difficult to carve out time to hang out as a family. Complicating the issue further is the pervasiveness of screens in our lives. We all know that our presence is a present and even having a phone in our line of vision impacts the quality of our conversations and sense of connection.
How do we keep technology in check as it's grown more and more entrenched in our daily lives?
- Start - and keep - talking. Talk to your girls about technology. What's good about it, and what's not? How does it feel to be on alert 24/7 for what others are doing and saying online? Does social media make you feel connected, less connected - or both?
- Model being fully present. Kids often feel as though they are competing with technology for attention from their own parents. As much as you can, unplug when you are together as a family. Turn off notifications. Turn your attention to your family as you dial down your own distractions. Role model being present.
- Take tech breaks. Girls in particular need to ditch devices from time to time. Turn off phones at least an hour before bedtime and keep them parked in the kitchen (or another central location). Prohibit devices during family meals. Reserve the right to designate certain gatherings or days as device-free. Don't expect a high five from her on this one, but it is a great exercise!
- Become the teachers. Being involved in our children's tech lives and helping provide perspective can give our girls a reality check and help keep the tech-derived drama at bay. As they enter the social media world (possibly in middle school), be a part of their social networks, be watchful without being smothering and share your lessons learned from social media (FOMO is real for adults, too!)"
On a personal note, on the way home from dance class my four year old asked me if I got any pictures or videos of her. I told her I had and said we could watch them once we got home. Then she said, "Mom all the parents in class were on their phones the whole time." My heart just sunk. I was really hoping I wasn't one of those parents. Was I? I may have not been that parent on that day but I know I have. I felt really guilty about it. I do check my phone all the time. But after I read this article, I have really tried to make a conscious decision to not have my phone out so much with my kids or husband. If I am doing something on my phone around them, I tell them what it is. I don't want whatever I may be doing on my phone to ever be perceived as more important than they are!
-Kristi Waidhofer & Katie Bryant