Ignoring your kids in favor of your cell phone? Research shows what your gut may already tell you: it hurts their feelings. In researching her book The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair interviewed 1,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18,about their parents' use of mobile devices. The language that came up over and over and over again was "sad, mad, angry and lonely." Some gleefully told how they tossed a parent's phone into the toilet or hid it in the oven.
If you’d like to preserve your cell phone—and, oh yes, your family relationships—we recommend setting an intention to pay attention to your kids when you’re together. We agree with Steiner-Adair when she says, "We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.” Small wonder that children (and spouses and friends and colleagues…) may act out more to get a crumb of our attention.
We want to hear: Have you experienced “disconnects” because you’re preoccupied with technology? Are you doing anything to modify your behavior? Share your responses to the weekly discussion question here.
4/29/2014 02:11:18 am
Boy, I sure know how those kids feel! I have a teenager that is constantly plugged in and extraordinarily difficult to communicate with. My best chance to get her attention is to send a text and ask for it!
4/29/2014 04:32:43 am
You are so right Kelly. Guess it does go both ways once "kids" are old enough to have their own device!
4/29/2014 03:08:11 am
When I am in a meeting, I've noticed I will grab my phone to ''halfway listen'' and just know this is not a polite and quite selfish action I've chosen to do. I am working hard on myself to not do this as I've felt due to my position in these meetings, I'm the boss I can do what I want. This is not healthy to these people at all!
4/29/2014 04:32:32 am
Thank you for sharing this personal insight, Greg. It is so true: The person with most power in the room does set the tone for how listening happens.
4/29/2014 03:32:59 am
I have seen both sides of this lately. I have four grown children, eight grandchildren (25 to 3 yrs), and soon to be four great-grandchildren.
4/29/2014 04:53:17 am
Yes Merry, technology does have those two sides. Guess the key is figuring out how to live our lives optimizing the strengths technology offers.
4/29/2014 03:37:13 pm
The very interesting aspect of this is the way the "inappropriate" use of technology affects the behaviour of adults in the work place. Attend a meeting where participants are constantly giving their attention to incoming texts, emails and the like. The contribution to serious decision making and direction setting has I think a direct relationship to the quality of the input. I consider it frankly at the least impolite and at worst insulting to other meeting participants. Similarly ungracious is the habit of some to leave a device on silent but vibrate and have it on the desk or table so that it vibrates every few minutes or so.
4/30/2014 07:38:45 am
You have certainly thought this through on many levels,Mike. Your observation that focusing on a techno device rather than the people around you is something between impolite and insulting. Maybe it's because the relationship message (whether to our kids, family or colleagues) is: This incoming message is more interesting to me than you are. Your personal commitments around family time are admirable. Thanks.
5/6/2014 02:55:22 am
Well said! I suddenly realized recently I had forgotten my phones when I went somewhere for the day with my husband. After the first "but what if someone NEEDS me!" panic, I realized I felt very free to relax and enjoy the day. In a real emergency, my husband also has a cell phone, and the family knows the number. I really enjoyed my day, giving all my attention to people, things we were doing, and may just leave them home more often.
5/6/2014 03:53:43 am
Interesting how those life moments can create new patterns. Happened to me recently and I realized how often I reach for my phone to check in on Twitter or FB when there is any pause. The other option is to be present -- and just be!
4/30/2014 03:12:49 am
I'm sure glad you added the parentheses at the end of the entry. Thinking about spouses etc. is also key to a meaningful relationship.
4/30/2014 07:41:50 am
Absolutely Bobbi! Spouses, friends, and colleagues -- not only our children -- are most definitely part of the world that notices when we choose technology over them. It is a hard habit to break.
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