You may have read our recent post discussing the problem with children getting way too much screen time. It’s a serious issue (an estimated 87% of infants and toddlers in the United States are getting too much screen time) and as parents we really should limit how much our children are in front of a screen as it significantly hinders their brain development.
But if we are honest with ourselves, we are likely just big hypocrites setting really bad examples for our kids. How much screen time are we getting ourselves? Our children are watching us. They see us constantly distracted or finding entertainment from our phones and other electronic devices.
I know for me (and you can probably relate) I cannot stand when someone is pretending to listen to me. I’ve been in groups of friends or family where everyone is so distracted with their phones that people are pretending to listen to one another. We take selfies and group pictures when we are together in a social setting to show off to the world how cool our lives are and how much fun we are having with others. At the same time, we aren’t being fully present with those same people because we are constantly distracted with our phones.
It breaks my heart knowing the same thing is happening to our kids. We are scrolling on Facebook or texting so much that we aren’t interacting enough with our own kids.
When I was a child I remember asking my mom to go play catch in the front yard with me and she told me she had too much to do. I was crushed. I didn’t understand. What could possibly be more pressing? As an adult (and full time working, stay-at-home mom of four + homeschooling everyday) I get it. My mom literally had too much to do. After all, she also was a full time working mom outside of the home with three kids in lots of activities. She definitely had too much to do. But for whatever reason, that memory has stuck with because of how devastated I felt as a six year old. I just had no idea what she had on her plate back then.
And that was long before we had cell phones and iPads. Think of what our children feel like today when they are pushed aside, ignored, pretended to be listened to because we just have so much to do on a screen. I imagine that is a much worse feeling. And it’s happening in low doses day after day, not just one moment of being too busy to play catch.
My mom worked liked crazy to run our home and looking back, I truly appreciate and respect it. I fall short of how hardworking she was (and still is) all the time. But had my mom been on her phone looking at Pinterest whenever I wanted to spend time with her, the respect I have as an adult for her wouldn’t exist. I would feel forgotten, unimportant, not worth her time.
So what are we supposed to do? Letting our kids watch videos is much easier than actually parenting them or spending time with them, right? Scrolling on Instagram helps us decompress after a long day, right?
I actually completely disagree. When my children watch videos (yes, they still do get to, only sometimes in small amounts) they are crankier and less creative. They have a glossed over look in their eyes with no energy left. They pick up the sarcasm on kids shows. They are actually much harder to parent.
When I’ve been on my phone too much, I’m worse off as well. I’m often more discontent with how my life looks thanks to all the perfect looking interiors, clothing, marriages of others on Instagram and Pinterest. I shop too much. I hoard articles of random topics I can’t wait to read later on. I’m spending precious time on nothingness.
Something that has helped me is turning on my screen time notification where I receive a weekly update. It can be unsettling when I see how much time I’ve spent on my phone. Unsettling in a good way. It’s caused me to put it down more often. It’s helped me weigh whether or not those hours are worth it. How much further along could I be towards other goals if I spent them off my phone? How much further along would my daughter be with her crocheting if I put my phone down, sat on the couch with her and worked together in the evening? How many secrets would she tell me or life questions would she ask me if I took that time with her? How meaningful would it be to her to feel heard and that her mom has time for her?
Just something to think about before we start scrolling next time.