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How Distracted Parenting Can Affect Children

Updated on July 12, 2017

"When you make a decision to have a child, you're also making the decision to take responsibility for the child. You don't abandon your obligation as a parent because you have other plans" is a saying. But are parents of these days taking complete responsibility for their children? This is a big question because parents who have to take care of their children seem to have become oblivious of their responsibilities, thanks to their smartphones and various other gadgets.

Gadgerts such as the iPhone were not there a decade back. But these gadgets seem to have become ubiquitous now which means that our dependence on them has been increasing at an alarming pace. People who are not using gadgets such as a smartphone are a rare species. This is certainly creating a problem especially because everyone of us is already busy in the present-day context. So, this adds to the pressure parents of today are already struggling to cope up with.

Most of the parents including you may swear that kids and not your gadgets are your first preference. But the reality is different because your actions are contradictory to your intentions, however good they may be.

According to Joe O'Neil, Developmental Pediatrician in Riley Hospital for Children, visits to the emergency room of their hospital have risen due to increased use of cell phones by parents. He adds, "We know that, when we look at injuries, we know that injuries are more likely to occur for young children if their parent is not actively supervising them. I think they're taking their focus off of their child and putting their attention on texting, or reading their texts, or getting on Facebook, or getting on the internet."

Parents may not relish these strong words but a study conducted by the Illinois State University and the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital of the University of Michigan corroborates this fact. The study says that longer the time parents spend on their gadgets, more are the chances of their children showing tantrums and indulging in things such as hyper-activity and whining. Dr. O'Neil further adds, "That's time that we are parents will never ever get back, so it's really important for us as parents to be physically, mentally and emotionally engaged because that's how children learn. That's how they develop."

Modern gadgets such as smartphones can be highly addictive. In fact, makers of these gadgets have designed them that way. Earlier, when these gadgets were not available, parents used to immerse themselves in newspapers or in books. The story of Abraham Lincoln, then a young dad, reading books even when he put his children in a wagon and pulled it down the Illinois streets is still popular. His children might have certainly hated his way of parenting.

Dr. O'Neil says about children, "If a parent is not engaged and they see a blank expression or a different focus, what are they going to do? They'll either act out to get attention, or give up. That may lead to that child doing things perhaps they shouldn't be doing." The intention of pointing out all these things is not for "parent shaming" but to impress upon parents that if they shun their gadgets for the sake of their children, they can be certain that their children are quite safe.

Of course, nobody can be a perfect parent but you can try your best. You can take the help of technology itself. For example, apps such as Quality Time will help you in monitoring your use of phones. The app can help in shutting the phone off when things more important like your children need your focus.

Similarly, Family Time is another app that can work on all your devices. Witt the help of this app, you can know where the kids are. You will get a panic alert instantly if they face any trouble. But personally supervising children is more foolproof than all these apps. So, parents including you should stop enjoying the short-term thrills smartphones provide and pay attention to the kids.

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