Parenting and Mobile Devices: What You Need to Know

From Lanissa Maggert our Family Support Coordinator

 

Are you sometimes distracted by your mobile devices to the point of ignoring your children? It’s easy to do as we are instantly connected to family, friends, Facebook and more, everywhere, around the clock.

What kind of message does this send to your children?  If it has become a habit, you may be sending a message that the information coming through is more important than a child’s need to talk to you, to ask questions, to have your undivided attention.

Research has shown that relationship-based interactions — face to face — are how young children develop important social, emotional, language and cognitive skills.  These early skills are critical in preparing children for school and beyond.

For infant and toddlers, direct interactions provide lessons of trust; that is, adults responding to their immediate needs of food and comfort. And these connections are made throughout daily routines, including mealtimes, bathing, or running errands.

While no one knows the specific impact of a parent’s use of mobile devices during a child’s developmental years, experts do agree that the single most powerful predictor of a child’s vocabulary is the opportunity for conversations. A child’s brain needs regular interactions and conversations to stimulate brain development. Parents monopolized by their mobile devices more than their children are missing critical opportunities to be engaged. Over time, meaningful conversations decrease or even disappear.

A few simple guidelines on the use of mobile devices may help keep parents engaged with their children.

  • Set a limit on the amount of time spent on your mobile device
  • Put the device away during periods of time that children are interacting with you
  • Don’t allow the use of mobile devices during family time at home and away

The benefit of parent engagement is the positive impact on your relationships with your children.

 

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