We are all guilty of reaching for our phones when we’re bored. Constant smartphone use can quickly become a habit before we even realize it.
For parents, using your smartphone too often can affect your kids. A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that kids feel neglected when a parent reaches for their phone. The study also revealed that parents themselves are concerned about smartphone use in front of their kids. Many parents feel torn between their child-rearing responsibilities and their work demands, which usually appear in the form of texts, calls, emails and notifications.
As smartphone use is a problem for both kids and parents, adopting better habits around electronic devices (smartphones, iPad, laptops, TV, etc.) creates a happier home life for the whole family.
Here are some helpful tips for parents who want to limit smartphone use in front of their kids:
- Out of hand, out of mind — Keep your phone in your purse or pocket while on the playground or during playtime with your kids. Set the phone to ring for emergencies if you need to, but keep your phone out of your hand when engaging in playtime with your kids or watching them play.
- Establish an “unplugged” rule at the dinner table — Make a firm rule to not use smartphones or other devices during meal times, including when your family is out at a restaurant. Parents should lead by example and not reach for their phone when eating, which can quickly turn “family” time into “phone” time.
- Create a “no screens” habit before bedtime — Turn off all smartphones and digital devices (including TVs and laptops) one full hour before bedtime. Use this time to talk to your child or read a book together. Limiting screen time before bed can also help improve sleep habits for you and your kids.
For most parents, smartphones are necessary for many daily tasks. However, this doesn’t mean you should be on your phone 24/7. The more conscious parents are of their own smartphone use, the more kids will develop healthier habits around using digital devices, which makes for happier families overall.