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Parenting and Smart Phones II  

In addition to creating problems for parents by distracting them, smart phone use can have an impact more directly on their relationship with their children. There is a tendency to respond pretty immediately to notifications on a smart phone, or to answer calls when they come in. When this interrupts a conversation or interaction with a child, it does a couple of things. One is it disrupts the interaction itself, and since interrupted interactions often don’t get picked up again and may have diminished energy if they do, the value of that interaction is lost. The other thing interrupting the interaction does is give the child the message that they are less important. Our attention is a pretty clear message about what we value and if the attention which is provided to children is easily interrupted the message is that they are not valued very much.

I often hear from parents that they would like to have more conversations with their children, would like their children to share more with them, and would like to feel more connected to their children. While there are ways to talk differently to children to help bring about those goals, the most basic level is to communicate to them that they are important and worthy of attention. Consequently, it is important for parents to monitor their own use of technology and make sure it doesn’t get in the way of connecting with their children.

Of course, children’s use of technology can also interrupt conversation and connection between parent and child. Parents often aren’t the only people in the family to have a smart phone, and there is other technology (tablets, games, etc.) that children frequently have access to. This needs to be addressed as well. This brings us to another major issue about how parental smart phone use, and technology use, can impact their children and their relationship to their children. This is how parental technology use provides a model for their children. More on that next month.

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