Put Your Phone Down For Your Child's Emotional Development.
Nomophobia and your child's mental health.
I can not take anyone who zombies out on their phone seriously and won’t bother blessing a person with my presence, let alone my words, if they’re not mature enough to look me in the eye and away from their phone during a conversation.
“…next time that happens phone them, when they see it’s you that’s calling and look up at you just say ‘Now keep your eyes on me until I’m finished talking dickhead.” — Gary Miekle.
I’m not a phone person. I’m that annoying person who never answers the phone, assuming I replaced the last one I lost or drowned. I never instigate a text, rarely ever reply to texts, and when I need to make contact, I phone and arrange to catch up.
I’ve worked in lending and brokering, where a phone was essential. I’ve even been let go from a job because I said I turn off my phone at nights and weekends to spend time with my family. I didn’t read the part of the contract that included my soul. She called it “didn’t fit the culture.”
Nomophobia, or no-mobile-phone-phobia, is mobile phone addiction. It refers to that person that’s constantly checking their phone, tapping their pocket, or rummaging through their handbag at the slightest vibration, or even worse; it's permanently attached to their hand.
A 2019 study investigating the effects of parents who spend too much time on their phones found that those children had more trouble regulating their emotions and an increased risk of developing depression in later years.
Another study found that teenagers with nomophobia are more likely to end up materialistic, which in the long term leads to low self-esteem, unrealistic expectations, and debt issues in their attempts to satisfy short-term needs.
Although many games and videos are designed to teach children anything from their A, B, C’s to algebra, children under the age of 2 can not process what they see on screens into learning about the real world.
Videos and games are only beneficial to children if a parent is present and follows the videos and games with the children. A child learns best in real-world conditions in real space and time with real people and real events.
Knowing that children model our behaviour, reducing screen time yourself will show your children that there are more important things in life than what is going on in the virtual world.
Have you fallen prey to nomophobia? Why not take the following test and check how you’re doing at managing your time on your phone.
So, here’s a challenge I would like to put forward that I will be trying myself.
- Take 24 hours off. I understand many people are self-employed or work 7 days a week for someone else, so if 24 straight hours is out of the question, split it into 2 lots of 12 hours, or 3 lots of 4 phone-free hours. Honestly, if you can’t spare four straight hours from your phone, medical and emergency reasons aside, then you’ve got bigger problems!
- ALWAYS prioritize your child’s needs over your screen. If your child needs your attention, you put the damn phone down and look your child in the eye. Eye contact is essential to your child’s mental and social development.
- Take your child somewhere without your phone. The world does not need to see what a fantastic parent you are. Your children need to have a fantastic parent, so enjoy their time with them and for them.
- Work it out. How much time, outside of essential (work or medical) screen time, do you spend looking at a screen? Now work out how much time you spent facing your child?
It’s scary to think that people out there would consider the above advice impossible; they will find every excuse under the sun for needing more screen time than child time.
If that’s the case, you need more help than this story can offer you.
Here’s an interesting Austrian invention you might like:
I highly recommend the following article which is a thorough discussion on the research around mobile devices and their impact on parenting.
Best get away from this screen and spend time with my children.
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