What is the new BIG THREAT to our children?
Date Night Rule!
My husband and I have a rule: No social media on Date Night. When we are together on Saturday nights, our phones are put away. Even when he is driving and I am just sitting in the front seat with two free hands. NO PHONES!
This means, when we get to the restaurant, our phones stay in the car, or a pocket, or purse.
This gives me lots of opportunities to see what is happening around me. And here’s what I have noticed:
We are in the minority.
On the drive to the restaurant, I notice down-turned faces in the cars all around me. Not just the passengers, the drivers too. (They think they are being sneaky–it’s illegal here in California–but phone-gazing comes with a very distinct posture that is very hard to miss. And that is even before your car swerves.)
Once we sit down in the restaurant, all around us other couples/friends/families, are eating together–but also separately. Because they are all on devices. I used to see more tablets, but now it’s mostly phones.
But hey, I’ve been there. Doug and I are not perfect. We have had plenty of phone time on dates before we made “the rule”. On many occasions we’ve been known to pull out a phone and hand it to the noisy toddler in church (or in a restaurant) to give us–and the people around us–a break.
And don’t even get me started on road trips–talk about a tech free-for-all!
But as we learn more, and see more negative side-effects and a growing dependence on screens, we are trying to change our habits. Slowly but surely I’m trying to break small habits that have crept in over time. I’ve taken Facebook off my phone and cut back on Instagram consumption. The i-Pads are no-longer in circulation or available for the kids to use (until the next road-trip). The car DVD player is no longer being used, and every single game has been deleted from my phone, so that even if I am tempted, I won’t hand it over to my boys.
Break bad habits!
I’m not perfect. And sometimes it seems like a losing battle or one not worth fighting. After all, screens are all around us. Most of us have one at our fingertips every moment of the day. Tech consumption, mostly on smartphones, is increasing by the second. It is literally everywhere. And it can enrich our lives in so many ways. But with all of the amazing technological marvels we have access to, come terrible, terrible by-products.
Here is what I have a serious problem with:
I get it. Babies are hard and babies are noisy and babies are NO FUN to eat with in restaurants.
They are difficult to take shopping.
They are NOT reverent at church!
And sometimes a mom or dad needs to be able to eat a meal in peace for crying-in-the-night!!
So what do you do?
But I’m begging you. I’m PLEADING with you–keep your phone away from your baby.
Don’t prop your phone in front of your baby at the restaurant.
Leave your phone turned off at church. (God loves babies. Even noisy ones.)
Keep your phone put away in the grocery cart even though I KNOW how hard it is to get through Target/Costco/Ikea/Albertsons with a crying baby!
(Or a Screaming Toddler/Cranky Grade-Schooler/Sulky Teenager. I have five kids. I’ve been there! The struggle is real!!)
Once you are home, keep your phone out of the swing, saucer, bouncy seat, high chair and crib.
And please, PLEASE FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THE WORLD–put your phone down when you are nursing! Or doing ANYTHING with your baby. (Or adorable toddler/sweet grade schooler/growing middle schooler/doing-his-best-high schooler/mother/uncle/friend/lover…)
Just put it down!
Whatever you do, keep your phone away from your baby.
Out of his crib, out of her car-seat.
It is not fair to raise your child with an addiction they did not choose. An addiction that will saddle them with craving and dependence as strong as a drug habit. Not only is it not fair, it is selfish and irresponsible.
If you can’t put it down, if you can’t stop picking it up and clicking and scrolling endlessly, recognize that you have a problem and make a change.
Listen, I’m not perfect at this.
I’ve taken Facebook off my phone and put it back on multiple times. I am not a tech expert. I’m not an anything expert. I’m just a person who reads a lot. And a lot of what I read are articles relating to tech. And it’s pretty scary stuff.
When I read about research done in the area of Smart Phone Use or Technology Addiction, the results are never, ever, positive.
They are scary for adults. They are absolutely TERRIFYING for pre-teens and teens. And early studies on babies and tech show more of the same negative outcomes.
Early results of “technoference” in family life are NOT GOOD! I can only imagine the horror that will come from future long-term studies done on the babies raised with screens constantly in front of them. Or between them and the faces of their parents and family members.
Maybe you are thinking, “I know I need a to make a change, but it seems so overwhelming, I’m not sure how.”
Do you have an iPhone?
Set some restrictions like turning off the Internet/Facebook/Instagram and have your spouse or friend or mom pick the password.
Are you constantly handing your phone to your little ones? Delete all the games. And then turn off the App Store in Restrictions so you can’t easily re-download them.
If you must, switch to a flip phone. You may think I’m joking, but flip phones are making a comeback as more people recognize the addictive nature of apps and unhealthy amount of time spent on smartphones.
More people are refusing to give smartphones to tweens and teenagers thanks to skyrocketing depression rates. The least you can do is refuse to hand your phone to your baby.
Do something big.
Or start with something small.
Just do something!
If you need a little additional motivation. Read the first article listed below. And then a few more linked below it. Until you have the strength and motivation to make a positive change. I promise you it is worth it.
You only have one life to live. Put your phone down, and live it.
“Yes, parents have been distracted forever, but the kind of engaging distraction that this device produces is something that the world has never seen before.”
“It’s not just kids who are overdoing screen time. Parents are often just as guilty of spending too much time checking smartphones and e-mail — and the consequences for their children can be troubling.”
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge (in The Atlantic)
“The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely the are to report symptoms of depression.”
“If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible!”
“I have two kids and I regret every minute that I’m not paying attention to them because my smartphone has sucked me in.”
Porn is Not the Worst Thing on Musical.ly by Anastasia Basil
“Pretend you can turn your kid invisible. Pretend you drop your invisible kid off at a warehouse in downtown LA. You have no idea who’s inside–fingers crossed it’s packed with Nobel Peace Prize winners, board certified pediatricians, and J.K. Rowling. Pray it is not packed with the worst of humanity. No once can see your kid, but your kid can see everyone and hear everything.”
The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers by Anna Homayoun for New York Times
“I’ve spent nearly two decades working with teens on organization and time-management in the heart of the Silicon Valley, and many teen girls tell me they have a real Instagram account (“rinsta”) for a wider audience and then keep a “finsta” (friends-only or “fake” Instagram) for their closest friends.”
“Parents of the world, WAKE. UP,” Skipper Coates, the Pleasant Grove, Utah, teacher wrote in the viral post. “Your kids are living in a world that you are not invited to be part of. And they know how to keep you out. Your teenager DOES NOT NEED a smartphone.”
Turn Off That Smartphone, Mom and Dad! — Psychology Today
“Parents on devices distress children and reduce their resilience.”