• Patrick McAndrew

Remember, Parents Are Role Models

Around this time last year, Huffington Post published an article titled, “Parenting in a Digital Age.”  In it, Susan Stiffelman offers some valuable tips on how parents can deal with issues surrounding their children’s over-consumption with technology.

Stiffelman makes some great points: talking and developing a connection with your children, not giving in to tantrums, and modeling good habits.  That last one is key.  As people, we often like to point fingers at others and accuse them of things that we are in fact guilty of.  It’s important that parents don’t get stuck in this trap.

There have been many times when I’ve seen parents on their phones while their kid sits lost beside him or her or sits quietly in the stroller.  Logistical, I can see the parent’s reasoning for doing this.  “Taking the kid on a walk?  Might as well get caught up on e-mail!”  But what I believe many parents fail to realize is that these little moments can be precious moments with their children.

I’m not anywhere close to being a parent yet, so I hope you don’t mind my ignorance.  I can only imagine that parents need a break, or several breaks, from their kids from time to time and to relax by watching YouTube or checking out the latest and greatest on their Instagram feed.  It has been said that the amount of time we spend with our kids is not as important as the quality of our time.  I’m led to believe that the time you do have with your kid (or kids, if you’re a trooper) is time that should not be taken for granted.

Going back to the whole parents modeling good behavior thing, if a child sees his or her parent on their smartphone constantly throughout the day, then what would you expect?  As parents begin pointing the finger at their children, we should look inwardly first and carefully dissect our own behaviors before we condone the ones of our children.

It’s important to keep the lines of communication open.  And if we put up these iWalls in front of our kids, they will do the same to us.  And, like any habit, the more we do it, the more it gets engrained to the point where we go about this habit without even recognizing it.  As Stiffelman mentions in her article, it’s crucial to take time and do real-world activities with our children like playing games, walking in nature, or simply having a conversation away from the distraction of our devices.

We need to listen better, communicate better, and empathize better.  If retreating to our online worlds is our first priority over the young ones, then that will be their first priority as well.

What do you think?  Do you believe parents are taking responsibility for their children’s excessive technology use?  Feel free to chime in because, like I said, I don’t have children.


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