Part 2 - How are we Causing Technology Addiction in our Children?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019


We can all feel this shift, this divide that technology is causing in our lives. This week we will continue to ask, what is our hand in it, as parents? What are the costs of our media consumptions, and how can we start dealing with it? It’s a challenging, yet crucial issue to face and it starts with us, the parents. (Need to catch up on Part 1? Go ahead, we'll wait for you here!)


Often as parents we are physically home, but are in fact constantly moving between worlds, thanks to our devices. We are responding to work email, scrolling social media, looking for an item on Amazon, all while attempting to interact with our children. We often tell ourselves that we are multi-tasking, and don’t want to admit that by transcending worlds we are in fact taking moments away that we could be connecting face to face with our children.


Professor and researcher, Brandon T. McDaniel, coined this phenomenon as “technoference”. Through a small study published in the journal Child Development, they found that heavy digital technology used by parents could be associated with child behavioral issues. They found that these seemingly normal stolen moments, such as quickly checking a text message while interacting with your child, really are causing greater problems in our children. [5]


Mental health counselor, Kristi A. DeName, M.S., explained a heart wrenching session about a child’s experience with their parents’ technoference:


Mental health counselor, Kristi A. DeName, M.S., explains a heart wrenching session about a child’s experience with their parents’ technoference. [6]

Even if we are working on our phones, our children do not always understand that concept. They often view our devices purely as entertainment. With examples like this, we have to start asking ourselves, what are we teaching our children? What kind of behavior are we modeling for them? We must become more mindful, we must push ourselves to be better role models.


Kristi A DeName goes on to ask a very compelling question: “Should the child conform to technology use, or should parents become more mindful of their time and behaviors spent behind a screen? Being that children are constantly looking for cues from their parents on how to act or feel, especially about themselves, the adults are the ones who should become more aware.” [6]


Author Sherry Turkle, PhD, a professor in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology and Society recently gave an interview about her book Alone Together. After speaking about the saddening moments of watching children desperate for parent’s attention while they text all throughout the day, was asked: So what should we parents do?

Her answer was straightforward, and right to the point:



Author and MIT professor Sherry Turkle, PhD, gives her advice for dealing with this growing issue. [7]

Ouch.


It hurts because we all relate, and we all know it is true.


In my own life I have realized that I commonly default to the excuse, “that’s just the world we live in today”. To an extent, it’s true. I often work from home so I absolutely must be on my computer at times. I live across the country from my family, so I am often messaging and checking in on their lives on social media. These are all great things, but we must continually push ourselves to not let the convenience of a device take away from something far more important. Not only our relationships with our children, but the health and well-being of our children as well. I don’t want to be the distracted mom. I don’t want my daughter to think back to her childhood, think of her mother, and picture a phone in my hand. I want her to remember an engaged parent, someone who saw her first and everything else second. So I challenge myself, and challenge all of you to make a sacrifice for your own convenience and entertainment. Sacrifice in order to truly connect with our children on a level that they desperately need. Even if they don’t know that they need it. [7]




Proposed definition for new term, "Technoference". [8]

It’s hard to say the exact affect we are having on our children, but Common Sense Media points out that it’s highly likely that we are more distracted than the generations behind us. We want to embrace modern parenting, yet we don’t want to be that person who is too addicted to some little device. Seeing a generation that often ignores their children at the dinner table because they are too absorbed in work emails and social media, experts are now beginning to predict the end of human connection, thanks to smartphone technology. Though this is a drastic thought, Common Sense Media gives one simple bit of advice, “It's all about taking control over your phone instead of letting it control you. In a nutshell: Put down your phone” [9]


So, what is the take away? What are the practical steps that we can take to make a change in our lives for the better?

Continue reading the 3rd and final part of this series. Where we will look at the reality of using technology, and be challenged to find balance.



Article contributed by: Jade Rhoden




1 https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/what-parents-need-to-know-about-technology-addiction

2 https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/kids-and-technology/how-much-time-internet-kids/

3 https://childmind.org/article/is-internet-addiction-real/

4 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201303/is-technology-creating-family-divide

5 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170524101501.htm

6 https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-does-parents-technology-use-affect-children/

https://familypeace.org.au/parents-technology-use-impacts-negatively-on-kids/

7 https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2011/02/11/parent-child_relationships/

8 Esther Cepeda, syndicated column, 2 Feb. 2018

9 https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/ne-easy-thing-you-can-do-to-improve-your-relationship-with-your-kid

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