Is your smartphone addiction damaging your child?
I recently came across this article over at The Guardian that references a study done by the journal Child Development. The article discusses the impact our smartphone addiction can have on our children. It touches on the resulting behavior, because they are basically being ignored while we check a stock quote, or text with someone about the game last night. That got me thinking about how fast time goes, and how my boys aren’t going to want me around forever. Soon, I’ll be looking up at them, and asking them to change my Depends. Talk about depressing.
It’s just so easy to get addicted, and it is ruining normal social interactions. I often think about what’s next. What is going to replace the smartphone, and make people even more disconnected? How do I teach my kids to just enjoy what’s real, and to pay more attention to what’s right in front of them? It get’s a lot harder when they see me jumping on my phone every chance I get. So, we’ve come up with five simple rules to help kick your smartphone addiction – at least while the kids are watching.
1. No smartphones at the dinner table
This one sounds obvious, but it was the hardest one for me to kick as the kids got older. When they were too little to eat with us, we would watch shows from our phone to catch up on DVR. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was missing all the “fun” a crazy dinner can actually be. When I gave this one up, we started talking a lot more, and I realized how quickly they were becoming little people that can hold a conversation.
2. Bring a digital camera to events
This feels counterintuitive given the ease of a smartphone camera, but that is just a gateway to more features on your phone. Trust me, you’ll take better pictures, and stay engaged in the event at hand. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of parents watching a Pre-K graduation through a 5″ screen, rather than enjoying the real moment. I would even suggest a tripod and small video camera for those types of events. Then you can clap as loud as possible to embarrass junior, and still have a much better version to cherish forever.
3. Silence is golden during home movies too
We attempt a family movie night every week, and we had to implement a silent bowl rule. This means that all smartphone and tablets go into a bowl on silent mode. This prevents people from playing games during the movie, or and calls interrupting. ProTip: set up special rings on your phone that ignore silent mode for important calls you just can’t ignore. They’ll understand.
4. No smartphone addiction in the bedroom
We make all the kids charge their devices in the kitchen, and only allow them to use them in the morning during breakfast. My wife and I got into a nasty habit of using our devices just before bed, and we had to stop. According to this article over on sleep.org, it was also impacting our sleep. To combat this one, we moved our in-room chargers to the other side of the room. We also agreed to complete any work-related tasks out of the bedroom. It’s helped us enjoy the bed for more than just sleep. Maybe it’s time to look into getting that tripod set up?!?!
5. Smartphones ride in the trunk
This rule is meant more for the kids. They’re young now, but I want to make sure they never see us using our phones while we drive. Chances are this will not be an issue by the time they are driving, but I’d rather not take that chance. We keep one phone in the glovebox for emergencies, but any other smart device goes in the trunk during road trips. The added benefit to this one is that they don’t fight over who gets to play Pokemon Go while we drive.
These are the basic rules that we’ve implemented to help reduce our smartphone addiction. I’m sure there are other ideas, and we’d love to hear them. Share your technology rules in the comments, and let us know how you’re kicking your addiction.