As parents, we all experience a certain level of guilt now and then, when we realize we’ve been spending a bit too much time on our smartphones. (Insert the collective “gulp” of parents everywhere.) And according to a recent study, that guilt might be justified.
Research conducted by AVG Technologies shows that nearly one third of children surveyed feel unimportant when parents are distracted by their mobile devices.
Over 6,000 parents and kids from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed. Generally, the whole family was in agreement: we’re on our phones too much.
A whopping 54 per cent of children questioned felt that their parents checked their phones too frequently – and 52 per cent of parents agreed. Over a quarter of parents also felt that their habits did not set a good example.
We might think checking our phones for a few minutes at a time during meals, at the park or while relaxing at home goes unnoticed – but the research suggests otherwise. Kids have certainly taken notice, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Children take their cues from us for everything else, so it is only natural that they should do the same with device use,” said Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies. “[Parents] need to lead by example and consider how their behavior might be making their child feel.”
In other words, we’re all aware of the problem – now it’s time to fix it. For many, it might simply mean limiting the times of day that mobile devices can be used. Start with specified device-free hours, and work up to device-free days. Or make rules for daily use that limit phones during certain activities for kids and parents: Phones can be used in the car, but not upon arrival to destination. Or, no phones during meals.
In the meantime, let’s give ourselves a break. Society has made us into the smartphone-using monsters we are today – all we can do is focus on baby steps toward a less digital future. (Or in desperate situations, sneak your phone into the bathroom with you.)