As parents and educators, when we are in lessons or talking with our children, we expect them to give us 100% of their attention, and we are annoyed or frustrated when they do not! How concerning then that the latest research with regard to adults and children shows that adults are so obsessed with their mobile phones that they are damaging the development of their children.
In Israel, a recent study showed that parents, when alone with their toddlers and using smartphones, interact 25% less with their children. Answers are stunted and little or no engagement is entered into.
Dr Borodkin noted in the study that: “The parents talked up to four times less with their children while they were on their smartphone. Even when they were able to respond while browsing Facebook, the quality of the response was reduced – the mothers kept their responsiveness to a bare minimum.”
This then was showed to have had a considerable impact on the child’s speech and social development. Toddlers did not achieve the same verbal goals as those from 10 years ago when smartphone usage was significantly less.
Of course, there will always be times when, as working parents, we need to use smart devices and give attention to them. However, we should now be thinking about the amount of time that we are utilising them, and the impact that has on quality time with our children and each other.
Quality family time has a far-reaching impact on our children from birth to adulthood. All children need time and attention from us as parents. Sometimes, as parents, we become so anxious to raise a “successful” child that we overlook the importance of spending time interacting personally with our children. Our working days can often be extremely long and tiring resulting in little time left for our loved ones.
However, the importance of family time absorbed in activities together should not be overlooked when raising and nurturing any child irrespective of their age.
▪ Quality time spent with your child or children means that they feel important, valued, and loved.
▪ It provides invaluable learning opportunities for your child to model parental behaviour.
▪ As a parent, it provides the opportunity to observe and learn about your child’s strengths and weaknesses and, therefore, allows you to guide them positively.
▪ Your child can voice their opinions and thoughts and know that they are heard.
▪ Your child knows that they matter in your life as time is being dedicated to them. The child-parent bond will ultimately strengthen.
The ideal is to build quality time into busy schedules, and this does not have to be as arduous as it seems:
▪ Make mealtimes count – have meals together, talk about the day.
▪ Take 30 minutes every day to switch off all devices – every day, take a break from your digital routine for at least half-an-hour and spend quality family time talking together.
▪ Build in time for creating family traditions: this could be anything that is relevant to your own family dynamic, from cooking a meal altogether from scratch with your teenager taking the lead to having a family games night.
▪ Eat out together once a week with no electronic devices allowed!
▪ Relax together as a family through yoga, meditation, walking or simply listening to music.
▪ Embrace the natural world by spending time with nature: you could go camping, hiking or gardening together as a family.
Whatever you do, and it all depends on your individual family dynamic, interests, and ages, in this new year make family time a priority. Connect daily with your child and children. This is vitally important and can be effortlessly incorporated into even the busiest schedule. Time spent together will have a positive far-reaching impact on your children as they grow into adults.
‘A day spent with you is my favourite day. So today is my favourite day’
– Winnie the Pooh
Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé