As I looked into her baby blue eyes and gave her a smile, her shoulders relaxed and she shot back the smile I’ve loved since the minute I laid eyes on her. Chloe Glen-Ella (my 3 year old) was sitting across from me this morning while we created majestic paintings of rainbows, shapes and all things colourful.
She had my full attention.
I was present.
She was happy.
I was in the moment.
Just Chloe and I creating childhood memories.
I decided to put my phone away for the entire morning and I wanted to see how many times through out the morning Chloe looked up at me; seeking a nod, a smile or simply checking that I was still there.
Do you want to guess how many times from 10:00am – 1:00pm she looked up at me?
Go on and take a guess…
Over 100+ times she looked up at me (I stopped counting at 100).
That’s an average of 33.3 times an hour she looked up at me.
That’s 100+ times I potentially would have missed out on connecting with Chloe if I would have been attached to my phone, an IPAD, computer etc.
Smartphones are damaging relationships with our children, partners and other family members. We must start to make changes before it’s to late.
How Smartphones are Damaging Your Relationship with Your Children
I understand first hand how busy our world is. Between being the maid, the cook, the driver, the wife, the friend etc, I get that we just want a minute to ourselves to disconnect and take a breath. So we typically hop online. But… that minute normally turns into 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. And instead of hopping online just once, it’s normally multiple times per day; if not hourly (I’ll be the first to admit I too have done this).
For example, this study done by Boston Medical Centre will have you second guessing your own Smartphone usage. Boston Medical Centre had their development pediatrician Dr. Jenny S. Radesky, complete a study where she focused on parent-child interactions at fast food restaurants. She found that more than 70% of the adults used their phones during the meal.
“When the child is making bids, the parent would respond in kind of a mechanical way or a delayed way,” she told Jenna in her interview with Today.
In addition, according to a recent study, 54% of kids think their parents check their devices too often and 32% reported they feel “unimportant” when their parents get distracted by their phones.
The way I look at it is this… when we’re 70 years old, sitting in an aged care facility and wondering why our kids don’t come and see us, the only person to blame is ourselves. We will have role modeled to our kids that being on our phone is far more important then being with our family. Our kids will know nothing else. So we can’t blame them for not learning and understanding the value of family; if we’re focusing on our Smartphone vs focusing on connecting and valuing our relationship with them; it’s time to take action. It’s time to make some changes.
How to Connect with Your Children in a Disconnected World
I’d like you to ask yourself the following questions: Is it really more important to check your Facebook notifications to see who liked one of your images or to Instagram the photo of your salad then spending time with your children? Your answer… probably not.
You might be asking yourself… where the hell do I even begin to start making changes? Or I can’t live without my phone.
My advice is simple… baby steps. Things are not going to change over night and even if you connect for 5 minutes daily of really, good, quality time with your child for the first month well, that’s better than 0 minutes.
Here are my top 5 things you can do now to disconnect from your Smartphone and reconnect with your child:
- Set a 2-3 hours a side and spend time with your child. During this time, keep track at how many times they look for your approval, look at you for a response, or even their non-verbal cues are important. This exercise is important because it allows you to understand the emotional needs your child is wanting from you. Basically it’s a reality check, like it was for me.
- Download the app Moments. This is a wonderful app that will provide you insight as to how much you’re using your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over the limit. You can also Google apps to track Smartphone usage for those that don’t have Apple products.
- Purchase the 30 Days 30 Ways to Connect with Your Child eBook. This eBook is an amazing resources because it gives you so many simple and wonderful 10 minute actionable activities that you can do with your kids that will have you being more connect and present with your child.
- Turn your volume off on your phone when you’re with your kids and while you’re doing this, turn off all your notifications for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. These suggestions alone will have you being present and building strong relationships with your kids.
- Keep your phone in another room when you’re spending times with your kids. As the old saying goes… out of sight and out of mind.
There are so many different ideas I could give you, but feel these top 5 ideas are the most important. These 5 ideas will start to give you insight as to how much your Smartphone is damaging your relationship with your children, but at the same time giving you tools to connect and build long term relationships with your children.
Make a difference.
Put your Smartphone down.
Start connecting with those who love you and need you the most.
Create moments, that turn into memories.
What’s one thing you can do to connect with your kids? Let me know below.
Angela from Finlee & Me