Parents: Stash your cell phones !

New studies raise concerns re: “distracted parenting”.

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Lots written lately re: kids spending too much “screen time” on iPads, computers and cellphones … and too little time reading, exploring and conversing.

All true … and much concerning.

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A recent analysis in The Atlantic stipulates to the cognitive development dangers of kids spending too much time glued to screens … but concludes that “When it comes to children’s development, parents should worry less about kids’ screen time—and more about their own.”

Here’s the essence of the argument…

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The Atlantic author – Erika Christakis – observes that :

The engagement between parent and child is increasingly low-quality. Parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned.

Distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but actually misread them.

A tuned-out parent may be quicker to anger than an engaged one, assuming that a child is trying to be manipulative when, in reality, she just wants attention.

Young children will do a lot to get a distracted adult’s attention …we can expect to see a lot more tantrums as today’s toddlers age into school.

And, digital distractions and interruptions may inhibit a child’s cognitive development:

Language is the single best predictor of school achievement …. and the key to strong language skills are those back-and-forth fluent conversations between young children and adults.

Toddlers cannot learn when we break the flow of conversations by picking up our cellphones or looking at the text that whizzes by our screens.

So, why so much attention on kids’ screen time and so little on parents’ digital attentiveness?

Simple. In psyche-speak, it’s called “projection”:

it’s easier to focus our anxieties on our children’s screen time than to pack up our own devices.

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P.S. To enhance empathy: How do you feel when a friend is constantly staring at their cellphone … or jumping to attention when the frequent  text message alarms go off?

That’s how the kids feel, too.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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