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For years there has been concern about the screen time for children and teens, but surprisingly little attention given to the screen time of parents.
"It’s not just distracted driving that is a serious problem. There are significant dangers to what is called distracted parenting. Do you know that when the iPhone first came out in 2007 that the number of children’s accidents went up significantly, and this continues to be the case?" says Terry Warburton, the Clinical Director of Recovery of Hope Counselling in Winnipeg.
She doesn't negate the fact that technology has its place as well as benefits to daily life.
"What I hope is that we can all learn something new and become more mindful and that our guilt can move us to make some positive changes because of new insights. It is interesting that parents and children spend more time together than they used to, but true engagement and connection is very low."
According to Warburton, truly connecting to a child while parenting is a step to a well-balanced child as they grow.
"Just being aware of a new message or notification on our phone undermines our concentration. Just the presence of a smartphone on a table, even if it is off, is very distracting, which causes people to feel disconnected."
With everything a smartphone offers, it is parents and teenagers that can lose track of just how long they spend on the device.
"A child’s emotional development is very much influenced by how their parent responds to them. Studies have clearly demonstrated that we are not at our relational and emotional best when we are focused on our phones. Distracted adults can easily miss or misread the emotional cues of their children and often become irritable when interrupted."
Warburton has some suggestions to help parents connect better with their children.
"How about getting up 30 minutes before the children to check on your email or social media, so you can put the phone down when the kids get up. How about planning family technology-free times, like at mealtimes and bedtimes. Let’s make sure we are being a good example to our kids and that we are managing our devices and they aren’t managing us!"
She shares that not having something to do all the time isn't a bad thing.
Believe it or not, the experience of boredom is actually a good thing. Our tendency is to fill bored spaces with technology. As adults, we can be a great example to our children when we put our phones down and engage fully in connecting with others and doing creative things."