How much are smart phones are affecting our parenting?


This week is spring break.  I took a few days off and away from home to hang out with some favorite kids of mine and a favorite friend, too. It was so nice to be away from my computer and my phone and from the need to constantly be contactable and replying to emails.  The amazing thing was that for the four days that I was out of town, no one really needed to contact me.  I had almost no emails, texts or phone calls.  This really surprised me.  I didn’t make any announcement that I’d be gone or anything and when I’m home I’m on the computer or my phone for hour/s a day.  I guess when I’m not generating emails and making phone calls myself, there is a lot less to do.  Which was lovely because I had a lot of focused energy for visiting with my friend and hanging out with kids.

One of these spring break days, we packed up in the car and went to the local Children’s museum.  It was a very busy day at the CM.  There were kids and parents everywhere plus all the noise and the exhibits. It took all of my attention to keep up with Nora. The 3 minutes I attempted a conversation with my friend inside of an ambulance in the Health care zone, Nora couldn’t find me, panicked, and started crying (completely forgetting that if we got separated we were going to meet under the flashing stoplight.)  She was really freaked out, which made me feel sad and a little like a terrible parent,  so I didn’t do anything but follow her around for the rest of the time.

We went from the vet’s office to health care zone to the child size Greek restaurant where Nora went behind the counter to take my order and make me some food.  While she was plating some plastic pizza, bread and some sliced carrots, I took my eyes off of her for a few minutes and looked around the kid-town for the first time.  Do you know what I saw? Approximately 1/3 of the parents were on their smart phones.  I’m not kidding.  And they weren’t having engaged conversations with someone on the other line.  That would  have been impossible. Almost all adults on the phones had this glazed over, dulled-out look that I recognize and totally get when I’m on my phone messing around which is a way of checking out wishing time would pass.  It was so upsetting.  How much are smart phones are affecting our parenting?

I don’t want to be on my phone constantly. I don’t want to be stuck on my computer unless I am generating genuine contact and communication with people.  I don’t want to be glazed over when I’m hanging out with my kids on vacation or any other time. The frightening zombie phone-parenting I witnessed and know so well helps me consider what really is necessary work on the phone or computer. This week away gave me space to see that the amount of computer time that I give myself, the time I dedicate to looking at my large or small screen probably doesn’t deserve as much importance or attention as it receives.  When the rest of life (the kind that is going on right in front of me) is engaging , then I don’t feed into the emails and the Facebook machines that require so much tending.  That stuff quiets down and the work that I generate could be de-emphasized and lessened just by paying less attention to it. So I’ll have more time for the really important stuff. (See photo above.)


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Amanda teaches breath-centered yoga in Austin, TX and online.  She’d love to help you discover yogic practices of movement, breath and meditation that can help move you toward quiet attention, centeredness and calm.  Click HERE for more information or to contact Amanda for a complementary 15 minute appointment.

10 thoughts on “How much are smart phones are affecting our parenting?

  1. hi Amanda, thought of this article i had read: #3 applies directly here.
    Last year i had a similar experience at a scouting campout. Campouts are electronics free for kids, to get them engaged with nature or whatever, instead of alone with a screen. but so many adults were hanging out in chairs glued to screens, not engaged with other adults or kids, truly numbing out instead of taking in the good all around them. I had the Pack Master make an announcement that adults were to put down their screens as well, i didn’t notice anyone grousing about it.

    1. I appreciate the list (so true, so true) and if someone took my phone away from me for a few hours each day, I’d probably appreciate that, too. I bet the camping trip was way more fun for everyone without the distraction of the smartphones. Glad you spoke up.

  2. I think it’s going to be a huge problem… if anyone cares to notice it and make a change. I work in mental health and see some extreme examples of screen addiction in kids. But I also know grown adults who can’t answer the phone because of anxiety. It will be interesting to see how this stuff plays out. I do not have a smart phone. Not planning on getting one either.

    1. I haven’t struggled with debilitating addictions in my life, but there have been some that have come up along the way and those feels like illness. Like there is something else that is running the ship and the behavior. It feels like I am out of control. If we recognize that it is a problem and is getting in the way of what we really want out of relationships/life, I guess it is a matter of “taking back” responsibility. I think there is some movement in that direction for some. Your work in mental health and yoga is surely giving people support and tools to do just that.

  3. I have noticed that there is a growing awareness of mindfulness, though it still has a long way to go to gain understanding and acceptance. However, mindlessness is spreading insidiously as technology makes more and more zombies out of us all.

    1. I think you’re right about mindfulness spreading — I see more and more about meditation and yoga in the newspapers and social media. Major sports teams are practicing and there was a morning show dj on the radio talking about meditation this week. Mindfulness requires effort and self-reflection where technology is sooooo very easy to engage. Like Andre said, we’ll have to see how this plays out with the larger society, and do our part in our lives to stay connected… to ourselves.

  4. Thanks for this. I think you’re right, and I am trying to be more mindful about my own phone usage when I’m around my kid (I’m not the worst about it, but I’m also not the best). On the other hand sometimes I really see why we parents do that zone out from time to time. It’s exhausting to constantly interact with our little ones! There, I’ve said it. : ) But I’m trying to find other ways of getting a break than…checking Facebook.

    1. Oh yes. There are many times when I just need a break from the constant chatter, interventions, tasks and cleanup involved with childrearing. The electronics are such an easy go to. Sometimes, too easy for me.

      I’ve been thinking about facebook lately, and about experimenting with a once-a-week check in. Post the blog… see what people are doing… move on. I’ve also been thinking about doing something similar with my phone (have a daily check messages time instead of compulsively looking at the screen every quiet moment).

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