According to a Wall Street Journal report, Quantified Impressions, a communications analytics company, observes that our modern lifestyle deprives us of eye contact because we are constantly dividing attention to multitask with our devices.
“When people withhold eye contact out of carelessness or disrespect, it speaks volumes,” the report said. The report also referred to FOMO, fear of missing out, as a new term for social anxiety that compels us to constantly check mobile devices for incoming texts and updates, as one of the ways adults make less eye contact, which is needed for bonding.
For the parent-child relationship, FOMO is a problem because it makes the wireless mobile devices our primary focus thus depriving face-to-face communications with children. And at the same time when we are handing over devices to kids, to pacify them there is even less opportunity to engage with the parent who is the child’s first teacher. The signal we are giving our children is that the device is the central focus of daily life.
Terrah Tillman, a Marriage and Family Therapist with Kids First, a Roseville non-profit dedicated to supporting children and families in crisis, also observes that often times parents use screen time as a way to hold a child’s attention, especially with very active, impulsive and challenging children.
“Daily routine tasks such as running errands or waiting in a lobby can be very difficult to manage with children who act out. Mobile devices are developed to grab and hold attention,” she said. “They offer a lot of stimulation to the brain that can actually cause the brain to go into a sleep like mode. Kids will appeared “glued” to the screen. In high doses this can be problematic.”
Lindsay Henry is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Kids First. “ Children are missing out on learning opportunities to engage socially and move physically. It can also interrupt sleep patterns,” she said. “The amount of stimulation to the brain can actually increase hyperactivity and impulsivity throughout the day. Typically kids do not learn from watching programs or playing video games. The best learning environment for children is being with an attentive adult.”
Education apps and games cannot fulfill the socialization children require from parents and other family relationships.
- Being mindful of how much undivided attention you give your child is critical in this day and age of wireless mobile devices.
- Set limits to screen time by requiring your participation. Never leave your young child unattended with a device or PC with internet connectivity. They are incredibly adept at figuring out how to access apps and passwords. If you insist on supervising their screen time, this is insurance that you will limit your young child (5 years old and under) screen time and have an opportunity to bond around the proper use of the device.
- Children six to 12 years old should have limited access to screens by a house rule to check out the device for a specific period of time wherein you or an another guardian are close by and supervising.
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