As I prepare to launch my second Naked Parenting book, Naked Parenting: Guiding Kids in a Digital World, I share with you this guest post on technology and parenting.
Guest Post by Hilary Smith
Modern Parenting: The True Impact Of Our Technology
When it comes to technology and parenting, snapping a lot of selfies or spending a lot of time scrolling social media can inadvertently harm our children. We are sending messages to our sons and daughters that they are less important than our devices. Whether it’s intentional or not, our actions often leave children feeling neglected.
This side of technology is important to consider, because our devices have become ingrained in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Technology has the power to enhance our lives in so many ways that if left unbalanced, it can surprisingly have negative influences on our families. There is no doubt technology has a time and place, but parents need to step back and take an in-depth look at how our beloved devices and social media can affect our children.
Technology And Parenting
Our devices can result in a child feeling anxiety or depression. When we focus on work emails or updating posts we involuntarily reinforce the concept that our sons and daughters are not important enough to merit our full attention. There is a direct correlation between parents who overuse their devices and feelings of neglect in children.
Leading psychologist, Catherine Steiner-Adair, noted, “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”
Constantly checking our cell phones or devices can deprive children of valuable interaction with adults. Talking and playing with our kids might leave you feeling as if you are wasting your time, but parents need to realize that face-to-face interaction is how children learn and develop communication skills. Research and studies have proven how daily dialogue and conversations are crucial elements of child development. Not surprisingly, researchers have linked the amount of words a child hears with their ultimate chances for success.
There are correlations between social media usage and the promotion of narcissism in children. Every photo snapped or milestone updated is sending the message they are important- so important that they their images are being flooded across countless feeds. As children age, they may value their self worth based on their digital presence. While indirectly, we are breeding mini entitled narcissists and may be fueling a lack of empathy.
Overusing the Internet and Smartphones can form very real addictions. The natural development process of a child’s brain naturally predisposes adolescents to addictions. Our children are exposed to digital stimulants through our Smartphones and other technologies at a very young age and we need to be cautious that we are modeling a healthy relationship with our devices.
Our technology can interfere with our ability to bond with young children. In the Attachment Bonding Theory, children need to develop close and trusting relationships with parents to support brain development and life skills needed to succeed in life. Our dependence on technology has the potential to hinder the bonding process.
5 Ways To Be More Intentional With Our Technology
Technology is here to stay, but if we are aware of how our personal relationship with technology is affecting our parenting, we can correct the problem. The solution to this problem is all about balance and intentional choices:
1. Set aside a predetermined amount of time everyday for technology.
By selecting a certain amount of time, say a half hour during nap times or after the kidlets retire for the night, you are allowing yourself to peruse likes and comments without any guilt. The key is to make sure you log off after the amount of time has elapsed and focus on the family.
2. Develop zones in the home where there is no technology.
These “no phone zones” allow family time during meals and reserves the bedroom for sleeping.
3. Take advantage of time spent with children.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your to-do list, but those precious moments spent in carpools or while setting the dinner table are perfect opportunities to fit in a quality conversation.
4. Create ongoing dialogue in your family about technology.
It is estimated that most three year olds already log onto the Internet! Teach social media etiquette early and build on that foundation with more sensitive topics like sexting and cyberbullying when the child is the right age.
5. Lead by example.
Our children are experts at watching us and learning from our actions. Make sure you are portraying the values that matter.
We are raising digital natives and need to ensure our children have the right skill set to navigate this evolving landscape. It’s vital that we challenge ourselves to put down our devices on occasion to be present in our children’s lives. After all, it won’t matter how many grumpy cat videos you watched thirty years from now. What will matter is your family and the memories created along the journey.
About the Author:
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.