A new survey of secondary school students is serving as a wakeup call for some parents who, according to their children, spend too much time on their cellular devices.
The warning is clear: Parents, put down the phones. It really is bothering your kids…maybe more than you realize.
Put together by the online safety group Digital Awareness U.K. (DAUK) and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) of the U.K.’s leading independent school leaders, the survey asked 2,000 11- to 18-year-olds about their and their families’ mobile device usage. The results are a little worrisome.
For example, 14 per cent of students said their parents were online during meals, with 42 per cent of them reporting feeling annoyed or ignored by this. But 95 per cent of the 3,000 parents polled separately denied being on the phone during mealtime.
“Hmmmm. Something doesn’t add up. Let us do a quick addition on our smart phone’s calculator. Oh, you’re choking, Timmy? Just hold on a sec, we’re almost done this calculation.”
Similarly, over a third of the students reported having asked their parents to put down the phone at some point.
“Our poll shows that children are aware of many of the risks associated with overuse of technology but they need the adults in their lives to set clear boundaries and role model sensible behaviour,” Mike Buchanan, Chair of HMC and Head of Ashford School, said in a release.
Interestingly, nearly half of the students polled said they “wouldn’t mind” having their phones taken away for the weekend. So maybe consider this idea of temporarily removing devices during fam jam time as a starting point.
Our advice: Have each family member toss their phone into a basket on Friday night and assign “check-in” times where everyone gets their device back for 30 minutes to read emails or scroll through social media. When said time is up, electronics go back in the basket. At the very least, this tech-free weekend will open your eyes to how often you mindlessly reach for your cell.
“We hope these findings will be a wake-up call for families and motivate them to have serious conversations about the safe and healthy use of technology,” adds Emma Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK. “We are encouraged by the attention some schools are now giving to this serious issue and the attempts to bring teachers, pupils and parents together to find consistent solutions.”
Next time you’re tempted to pick up your phone to scroll through Instagram or Facebook, consider employing a little mindfulness and just being in the moment with your children. They’re not going to be young forever.