Is Alexa part of your family unit? She’s crept into ours, she’s very knowledgeable and has a great music collection. We’re happy she moved in. Some of the other tech stuff, we’re not sure about. Americans now check their phones on average 96 times a day – it feels like a lot doesn’t it? We’re plugged in and zoned out. Reading news, playing games, connecting with people around the world and ordering tasty meals from uber eats. And our children are too, we give them devices to distract or reward them.
A recent study found that when a parent returned from work, only 30% were greeted by their children because they were so immersed in technology. 57% of parents are unhappy with the amount of time their kids are spending online.
Parenting is hard
When you have a child throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, fists pumping and lungs warbling, handing them a device can quieten them down. We all need five minutes peace, right? The problem becomes that that child never learns to soothe themselves or control their emotions. It can be a missed opportunity for a parent to make eye contact and connect.
And what about teenagers? Overuse of technology makes them feel lonely and more disconnected. The teen who throws a few grunts at their parents, then hides in their bedroom with the door shut chatting online to their friends may be feeling down. Up to 60% of teens in the US have experienced a major episode of depression according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Keep the family unit strong
Missing out on family relationships because of technology means the family unit is not as strong as it could be. Children feel less comfort, trust, security and unfortunately less love from their parents. And there’s also poorer conversation, so parents don’t know what’s going on in their kids lives and have less ability to exert influence over them.
Communication is key
Researchers at Cornell University recommend that families eat a meal together at least three times a week to promote healthy communication. Children whose families engage in this important communication-enhancing ritual are more likely to enjoy the additional benefits of improved academic success and greater psychological well-being.
It’s important for parents to provide a safe space for their children to develop physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally. They can do this through play, reading books, making eye contact, talking, listening and learning how to read non-verbal cues.Our Talking Point Cards are there to encourage families to turn away from their screens and talk again. They’re a fun way to get to know each other and reconnect. Families find they bond and laugh again, making everyone feel confident and secure that they are part of a precious unit.