My friend Elise was sitting with her 6 and 3 year old boys after dinner when her phone beeped. She picked up her phone, saw that a new work email had arrived, and read the message. It wasn’t urgent, or important, or interesting, but she felt compelled to take care of her co-worker’s request.
James, her youngest son asked, “Who’s that, momma?” She didn’t answer, just kept typing away.
Then her older son, Ben, said to James, “Leave her alone, J. Mom has really important things to take care of, more important than us.”
Ben’s words struck Elise hard. She realized she was addicted to her devices. She was putting trivial work tasks ahead of her family. And they were starting to notice.
When a parent frequently interrupts family time to get on his or her mobile device, it sends a message to the kids that the person or email on the other end matters more than they do. With younger kids, it causes them to feel lonely, sad and neglected. With older kids, it makes those parents who try to control kids’ use of cell phones look like hypocrites.
Today, your ThinkGood Call-to-Action is to set aside certain hours every week as Unplugged Family Time.
It only needs to be an hour or two a day, it can be during meals or while in the car. But make it a point to ignore those beeps and be in the moment with your family. After you’ve done this a couple of times, come back here and tell us what difference you’ve seen in those family members who now have your attention.
(Photo by PatCastaldo on Flickr)