Is our growing smartphone usage affecting our parenting?

Picture the scene, kids are playing at the park. Mum is having a quick scroll through Facebook when a shout from someone snaps her attention back to the park and she realises her two year old is moments away from being struck by a massive swing.

Shame. Embarrasment. Guilt.

Crisis averted it made me take a good hard look at how my smartphone useage is affecting my parenting.

Is your smartphone useage affecting your parenting?
Just before the incident

Has your child ever asked you to put your phone away? Have they said ‘no’ to more pictures? Have you missed something they said because you were on the phone?  Any close calls because your attention was on the phone? Most of us now rely on our smartphones as an information directory. We use them for shopping, banking, social interaction and even directions. It’s safe to say that without my phone I am completely lost. In an age where we are permenantly plugged in, basic etiquette has gone out the window. People think nothing of looking at messages while they talk to you and corresponding using text speak. How often do you simultaniously watch tv and check your phone? Ask the kids to ‘wait a minute’ while you finish replying to a message.  Are you ever really focussed on one thing anymore?

But how is our growing smartphone useage affecting our parenting? It doesn’t take a genius to see that being on a smartphone means that you are taking your attention away from your children. And while no one expects us to be solely focussed on them 24/7, when we consistantly make them compete for our attention the non-responsiveness has got to have an impact on their emotional functioning. How would you like to be faced with such psychological withdrawal? I hate it when I’m speaking to my husband and I know he’s ignoring me!

Studies have shown a direct correlation between device useage and infant social emotional function – and I won’t lie, this frightens me.

So what can we do?  Well to begin with you have to believe that there is a problem. So many mums I spoke to about this subject told me they were rarely on their phone through the day, but funnily were the first to reply to messages on social media and the ones to post the most pictures of their days. Like any addiction (because yes, believe it or not that is what it is becoming) you need to admit you have a problem before you can go about resolving it.

Start looking at how present you are day to day. Simply being there isn’t enough. Social media can fuel anxiety and increases stress. We become overwhelmed by the volume of information available and it can become impossible to focus our attention. Checking symptoms on google, speaking to people on message boards, looking up directories of things to do even. All these things might seem important but ask yourself if you need to do it right that minute. Or could it wait until later?

Cameras. My husband will release a massive sigh when I start taking pictures on days out. If it’s not on Instagram did it even happen though?? This i something I am struggling with. I LOVE to share my life online. This means taking a gazzilion pictures. So how do I change this?  Well I started by stopping. Not necessarily stopping taking the pictures but stopped posting them all. It’s ok to have pictures just for us as a family.

Is your smartphone useage affecting your parenting
Camera addiction!

Cameras on smartphones are a filter for reality. They can stop us partaking in the moment. Taking a snap of a romantic moment, a baby snuggle or family day out is taking away your attention from that moment. So going cold turkey isn’t always possible. But maybe try having days out where you maybe take half the pictures – if you are anything like me this will be a complete struggle! Camera pictures are like my habit. I’m challenging myself to break it slowly. I live in fear that one day in 30 years I will be showing my grown up kids pictures of an outing that I have fond memories of and they run rund and aay they hated that trip because I wasn’t really involved I was always just on my phone.

Can you leave your phone in another room for part of the day? I have started to wean myself off slowly. I allow myself to check my phone only when the kids are playing away with something or I’ve told them it’s my five minutes peace – I sometimes treat my stay at home mum time as a job, I take breaks!

Social media breaks are good too. I will come off  for a while whenever it starts affecting my anxiety because I know that it will have an affect on the kids. I also try to stay off it during family time and holidays. As a blogger it’s doubly hard as posting is promoting so I try to schedule as many facebook posts as possible and only tweet and Instagram once the kids are in bed.

Another indicator that you may have a problem is if you start having more superficial connections to people online than in real life. Last weekend I bumped into a lot of people at a local event, many who I connect with loads on social media. They like and comment on my blog, social media posts and even message me to chat. But only a tiny proportion of them had actually had anything to say to me in person. Many muttered a quick hello and walked past as if we barely knew each other. If real time connections are becoming infrequent and you rely more heavily on your social media presense then it’s time to take a hard look at why.

Smartphones are getting increasingly more intelligent, while we so not. My retention skills are rubbish and I believe that comes from never having to know anything. I can find out anything at the click of a button. Out a walk the other day me and the kids collected leaves and came home to do some crafts, getting a book out for the kids to identify the leaves was fun – yet someone told me there was an app for that! Course there is! Sometimes it really is good to go offline and back to basics though.

Are you a smartphone addict like me? Do you worry about how it affects tour parenting? Do you have any good tips to share?

We are off on holiday this weekend and I am going to try to be more present.

Lets’ s see how I get on!

Pam xxx

Mum Muddling Through

14 comments

  1. I’m not a parent myself, but it’s something I’ve noticed when I’ve been out and about, and I hate it. The other day, I was in the park and a guy was sat on his phone while his kids played, paying no attention. Now, I’ve taken my nieces to parks, I know it’s not the most exciting thing, but you need to be present.

    I don’t mind when people are using their phones to take pictures as much, because you’re capturing memories, at the end of the day. But when it’s for social media and things that could wait while you have fun with your kids, it really gets to me.

    I’m glad I grew up before all of this because my mum and dad were always there in the moment. Walking home from school. Spending time together at the weekends. It’s something I feel like children are missing out on now, and it’s really heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, of course – everyone needs a bit of relief! 😉 I think it’s when people use them at the expense of important moments or opportunities to make memories which irks me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a good read Pam, and yes, my name is Sarah and I have a smartphone addiction. You are so right on every point and yes, my kids have told me on several occasions to get off my ‘boring old phone’. I do believe it’s damaging to them and I also know I need to make changes. Have I managed to do that yet? Errrr… I guess like any problem you have to start with acknowledging it as you say. Amd, after all, we are bloggers! I downloaded a really great app called forest – it’s to help you commit to phone free times and focus on..well whatever you like! Not an ad, just a fab recommendation 😉

    Thanks for sharing with #CoolMumClub

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so true. I’ve installed the Forest app on my phone as well. Set a number of minutes, click start and then the tree grows … Unless you leave the app and then it dies. As I can’t bare to kill even a virtual tree, it’s been really helpful

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My downfall is Instagram and taking photos. I don’t take many of N anymore because he won’t let me put them online so I just don’t take as many photos of him anymore which I miss. But I still take lots of photos (with camera or phone) because I love photography. I only use FB for my blog now (and following my friends although not many really post anymore) and dancing updates because everything is on there. But I do look at my phone a lot. #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband and I have taken our daughter to the park and one time we saw a young boy playing talking to strangers. The entire time his mother was on the phone sitting at a good distance while he played. He kept seeking her attention to the point that he tried getting attention from other parents he didn’t know. He started following us around it was sad. On a personal note my two year has walked over and shut my laptop or grabbed my phone while I’m working. They seem to understand that it is receiving the attention instead of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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