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What happens to children when our attention is turned to our cell phones?

Are you there for your children?

Recent research of families in fast food restaurants shows that 70 percent of parents are distracted by their cell phones during mealtimes. Meanwhile, the children complained and misbehaved, they were in a nasty mood and even threw food at their parents.

The use of smartphones has increased so much that people are barely able to eat their meal without texting, twittering or using the internet. Logging in to Facebook often means logging out of any interaction with the person you are sitting with. We really need to start asking ourselves what such a huge distraction will impact the next generation.

From the beginning, babies need the attention of the parents, not only to survive, but also to thrive. Parenting does not just mean providing for the child’s needs by feeding and changing diapers. The results of experiments in the 1970s – led by famous researchers into child development – clearly show what the harmful effects are on the emotional and social level and what impact it has on the further development of the child if the mother no longer cares about the child.

the child gives. Other studieshave shown that reflection of affection, in which the mother communicates with her child with a high degree of attention, sensitivity and response, results in infants who score high on prosocial behavior and social expectations, while children whose mothers communicate with a low degree of attention, sensitivity and response also score lower on prosocial behavior and social expectations.

Think about the blank stare you cast at your cellphone. How often does your child not look at you in anticipation of a response, when your own face is expressionless, or when you are clearly responding to someone else?

mobile phones

Children seek possible response. From birth, they immediately mirror the expressions of their parents. They look into your eyes, waiting for a response. This response creates connections between the brain cells and neurons. The connections result in expressions in the child, the expressions from his experience world.

A well-tuned response from the parent or caregiver allows the child to feel seen and safe, and can develop their own social skills. A lack of response (for example, by parents who are constantly on their cell phones) leads to breaks in their attachment patterns. Attachment patterns are built into the child and later serve as models in adult relationships.

The degree of attachment determines how the child deals with his social needs.

Parents who are distracted by their cell phones are barely tuned in to their children. In doing so, they ignore the hurtful effect of ignoring the child’s emotions. This also affects the child’s self-esteem. During conversations, children showed boredom because they were unable to cope with the attention the parents paid to their cell phones instead of their children.

Their feelings toward the phones alternate between hostility (calling them “dumb phones,” and desire (competing with the parents and the phone itself). The kids at the fast-food restaurant became quite restless, increasingly noisy, and misbehaved for the attention of to get the parents.

And what do parents often do in response to their child’s frustration? Unfortunately, they hand the child their cell phone and in turn they learn to spoil the atmosphere and shut themselves off, just like the parents did.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics , “children today spend an average of seven hours a day in front of entertainment media, including TVs, computers, telephones and other electronic devices… Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school problems, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.” While some technologies can help with learning disabilities, others threaten our children’s abilities. Television , for example , is linked to attention problems in children .

Studies have shown that 1- to 3-year-olds exposed to TV are more likely to have ADHD than 7-year-olds.

Apart from the developmental risks, there are social and psychological consequences to consider. Plugging a child into technology can teach the child that they can’t even tolerate a few minutes without entertainment. It can create a dependency that further shifts him from relying on face-to-face human interaction and even his own imagination.

In addition, this can lead the child away from inner awareness skills that should lead to a happier and healthier life.

Mindfulness describes the mental state of consciousness—attunement or sensitivity of one person to another person’s mind. Mindfulness helps people live more in the moment at a slower pace, with less stress and better overall health. When technology takes us away from connection, we create a generation that is much less aware, more self-centered, more narcissistic, easily bored.

Social intelligence skills are further reported to be a better measure of success in life, even better than IQ. These skills include knowing the emotions (self-awareness), dealing with emotions, motivating yourself, recognizing emotions in others and dealing with relationships.

Could it be that if children look too much at the screens, they are deprived of the interaction needed to build their social intelligence?

As parents we need to ask ourselves these questions, in the digital age these questions are of great importance in raising our children. However, the answers to this do not mean we should immediately panic and assume that nothing can be done about it.

What we can and should do is to become more aware of ourselves, in order to create a better connection with our children. This does not mean that we should exaggerate in our parenting, as our society tends to do so. What counts is the time we spend with our kids, putting our phones down and really looking at our kids, listening to what they have to say and letting them know they are being heard and seen. And when it comes to technology,


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