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What Impact Does Your Phone Have On Your Kids?

What Impact Does Your Phone Have On Your Kids?

We've already discussed how to keep your children safe online, but what affect does your own attachment to technology have on your kids?

Recent studies have shown that 54% of children feel that their parents spend too much time on their mobile devices; and this may have lasting effects on social skills, confidence and concentration spans.

What Have Studies Found?

  • A study by AVG Technologies surveyed more than 6,000 children internationally, aged 8 to 13. They discovered that 32% of children felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by their phones. The children said they often had to compete with technology for their parents' attention.
  • ​Another study by Digital Awareness UK showed that a third of 11 to 18-year-olds said they'd asked their parents to stop checking their devices, and one in five said using mobiles stopped their families enjoying each other's company.

What Effect Can This Have On Your Kids?

  • Bad Habits As there is growing concern about how much time children spend on the internet, it is important to set a good example; in order to promote the importance of family time, physical activity, and face to face interaction. Children naturally take their cues from us, so it is unsurprising if they also follow our example with the use of mobiles and computers.

  • Attention Spans Research has shown that children develop their attention spans through social activities and interaction with those around them. So if mom and dad are frequently distracted by technology while playing and spending time with their children, this may lead to kids growing up with shorter attention spans, and lower levels of intelligence.

  • Confidence When parents spend too time on their phones around their kids, this may lead to children becoming socially awkward, as they have not experienced the sociable environment at home necessary for building confidence and engaging with others; and they are used to a feeling of isolation.

"My mum is always on her phone or computer and often when I ask her something she will not answer me and she complains that I am on my phone too much." - CBBC viewer

What Can You Do To Cut Back On Phone Use?

Unless you are a doctor on call or are urgently awaiting some genuinely important news, it's likely that you don't really need to check your phone constantly, but habits can be very hard to break. Here are a few ways to help you cut back:

  • Mute Notifications  Even if you still want the ring tone on, you don't need to know about every Facebook message or new pin, so put as many notifications on your phone on silent. Or even better, switch your phone to Aeroplane mode.

  • Draw Boundaries  You may not want to go cold turkey, but it's still useful to create some rules as to when you can play with your phone. As well as limiting time in general, it's particularly important to put your phone away for important activities like meal times, bath time, and storytime/bedtime; so you can give your full attention to the family. 

"The majority of our class think that their parents spend too long on their phones. Just over half of us think that during family or meal times, parents should not go on their phones unless they have a very good reason.​" 1st Class Group

  • Don’t Risk Temptation. Obviously people may still need to send text messages, make phone calls, or check up on something; but try not to fall into the trap of aimlessly browsing through the internet, or playing games on your phone while spending time with your children. It might help to keep your phone on a shelf nearby, rather than risking the temptation of having it constantly in your pocket, or next to you on the sofa. 

  • Ask For Reminders It's easy to slip into old habits when you're not paying attention; so it might help to get your partner, your friends, and (only if your brave enough) your children to let you know if your phone has crept back into the forefront again.

Do you worry that you're too attached to your phone? What do you do to try and cut back? Check out 'How Can I Keep My Children Safe Online' for a discussion of how much freedom we should give our kids with internet use.


About the Author

Emily is a writer, editor, blogger, and our Digital Content Assistant. She has three awesome nieces, and has accidentally worn the same outfit as them on at least one occasion. Emily likes making things, including hand-drawn cards, and a darn good chocolate cake. She still sounds very English, despite living in Dublin for the last nine years. More insight into the workings of her brain can be found on dancingcakesandsilence.blogspot.com.

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