How Do Your Digital Habits Affect Your Kids? It’s Unfortunately Not What You Think

You may recall one of the earlier posts on my website where I showed you what I think is the worst picture every taken of me. It’s not because of the massive bed head I was sporting. It was because I was sitting with my son next to me as he was trying to get my attention and I sat staring at my cell phone, ignoring him.

I have always been a tech and gadget geek. I have had every new smart phone that has come out. I had the original blackberry. Remember the Palm Treo? I had it. Loved it. Loved the way I looked using it. I was busy and important. I had things to do and no one could catch up with me because I was already on top of it thanks to my trusty Blackberry, Palm Treo, iPad, iPhone, iPhones 2,5, 5s and 6+. It’s hard for me to admit openly that, as of now, I only have an iPhone 7.

But having kids and more importantly that pictures changed the way I think about technology and how I use it around my kids. And I hope, you’ll take a different look at it too.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been sucked into our social media feed when your child comes up to you to ask something, and you give a distracted “just a minute.” But when devices interrupt interaction, it wreaks havoc on our children and family dynamics. If you want to improve your family life, why not make a commitment to disconnect from devices and connect with your kids more often?

Research shows that parents who are distracted by mobile devices not only interact less with their kids but are more hostile to their children. This doesn’t go unnoticed by children and kids who are competing with devices often react with hyperactivity, tantrums and even sadness and withdrawal.

Is that what we really want to do to our kids over something as mindless as a Facebook or YouTube feed?

I’ll admit, it’s hard. I’m tuned into every notification my phone makes, but with nothing more than a few techno withdraw symptoms, you can give your kids your undivided attention. Here’s a couple of suggestions.

  1. Be a media mentor. Kids are learning about digital media usage by those around them, especially you. Get your media habits under control and model these new habits for your children.
  2. Take control of your phone. Your phone, Facebook, YouTube Instagram, all of it is designed to get and hold your attention. However, there are many options to avoid being sucked into your phone. You can turn off your notifications, keep your phone on greyscale so it’s not as easy to look at and keeping only essential apps on your home screen.
  3. And finally, resist the need to document. Yes, you want to be able to capture special moments, but you don’t want the process of taking pictures to mess up the moment itself. Enjoy the moment and leave your phone at home. Prioritize spending time with your kids and put your social media followers on hold!

I’ll be honest, this topic is a tough one for me. I like to be connected and I must review my digital media usage around my kids often. When I notice I’m telling them “just a minute” without making eye contact with them, it’s time to re-evaluate, and I hope you will too!

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Jason Spear Miller