In the News: Smarter Smartphone Use
There’s no question that people are on their phones more than ever. It’s how we get our news, do our work, shop for necessities, interact with family. A lot of parents are concerned about limiting or restricting the time that their little ones spend with a touchscreen. But what often gets overlooked is how much time little ones see their parents on their touchscreens AND what those parents are using their phones for. Trust us, they’re watching.
Mindful parenting is at the core of our philosophy at Union Square Play. We want parents to be present when they’re interacting with their children. But we also know that completely avoiding phone use in front of our kids is just plain crazy. So what can you do? Keep reading for a few ideas from the folks at New York Times Parenting.
Tell your child what you’re doing.
We all know the “phone face.” You’re staring down at your screen, tapping away, and your expression goes blank. When this happens, your child has no context for what’s happening. In fact, he or she probably feels ignored. Simply letting kids know that you’re “looking up a recipe for dinner,” or “scheduling a class at USP” will keep them involved. You can even show them the words on your screen so that they can start to understand how those squiggly lines have a real-world impact.
Make it social.
Let’s not forget that phones were invented to connect people (not give you something to look at when you’re avoiding eye contact on the subway). Try to use your phone with your child when it’s appropriate. Make a FaceTime call together or snap some photos of the family dog. Modeling healthy digital behavior means being purposeful, not using your phone as a distraction from boredom.
Laugh WITH your children, not at them.
The other thing that psychologists have an opinion on is using your phone to record or photograph your child’s tantrum and posting it to social media. It can be tempting to grapple with a shrieking toddler by placing their photo beside a howling, red-faced politician and composing a snarky caption, but that would be making a mockery of the child’s genuine feelings. It might seem ridiculous that your kid is screaming because he suddenly remembered that he bumped his knee last week, but it being illogical does not take away from the fact that that pain is very real to him.
Some solid advice from professionals: “When a tantrum jangles your nerves, instead of laughing, try this empirically proven method of interrupting the ‘panic cycle.’ Notice your body’s response — the racing heart, the shallow breathing — and remember that your reaction is biological, not cause for alarm. Further calm yourself with a deep breath or a quick 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise.”
It all boils down to respecting our children by keeping them involved, engaged, and happy.