Technology expert Linda Stone has become increasingly concerned about “distracted parenting” and the negative effects it’s having on our children.
Oh, good. One more thing for me to feel guilty about.
First, my generation is accused of smothering our kids (I mean, they’re not wrong), and now we’re accused of ignoring them while “hearting” (aka liking) keto-friendly cookie dough posts on Instagram (again, not wrong).
So what? We can manage two opposing catastrophic parenting behaviors at the same time. ... I’m struggling to see the problem.
Well, Stone argues that our constant device interruptions are sabotaging an ancient emotional cueing system — disrupting our children’s ability to learn responsive communication.
In other words, kids learn by communicating with us. This gets disrupted when our phone keeps blowing up thanks to our friend who put us in an ill-advised group text.
What could go wrong?
If you look at some trends, they are a bit alarming. Smartphones have been directly linked to more children visits to the ER, and some studies showed children amping up the naughty to get their distracted parent’s attention, raising concerns about tantrums continuing on for school-age children.
One particular point put me on alert — parents distracted by their devices tend to be more quick to anger. As someone who works from home and is most known as an “online personality,” this sounds a bit familiar. As I’m typing right now from my kitchen island, my toddler has interrupted my cadence to ask for another orange no less that 14,537 times. It was the 14,538th time that tipped me over the edge.
Fortunately, I was writing an article about distracted parents being quick to anger. I closed my laptop and had her crawl into my lap so we could have a good chat about eating more delicious oranges.
Is there a cause for concern? Maybe. But I think we should be careful to always assume it’s doomsday for our babies. Parents from the ’70s smoked in cars with the windows up while their kids roamed around the backseat. The human race lived on — and lived on to create the fascinating technology we have today. The truth is, we’ve always evolved and swiftly adapted, and there’s no reason to think we’ll stop now. We’re also quite capable of adjusting and recalibrating when things appear to have gone too far.
So while I won’t be burning my smartphone any time soon, Stone has confirmed a trend my maternal instincts were already flagging. Rob and I have started “no-phone-time zones” while we’re at home. It’s not easy, but we don’t ever regret it.
Besides, I’m now more emotionally accessible when my kids ask for oranges for the 14,539th time. Stone would be so proud.