By Sadaf Afshan
Status updates can wait. This parenting article can be read later. It’s not important to take a dozen photos of our kids every day or comment on every photo that our friends post. As Moms the only thing that holds precedence is to nurture and cherish each moment of our children’s growing years.
How often have we been guilty of saying, ‘Let me finish this’ while they are all excited to tell us about what they did at school? As we continue to read about all those wonderful tips on how to raise a happy kid on our smartphones, the poor kids turn away disappointed and slump in front of the TV or tablet.
While our children squeal with glee at the playground we are busy glued to our screens instead of cherishing that moment of togetherness. In some families, even mealtimes, which are said to be the most important time for bonding as a family, are not free from distractions presented by cellphones.
Cellphones are an addiction
We all know that cellphone addiction can be dangerous during driving but do we think about the dangerous effects it can have on parenting? A recent study conducted by Boston Medical Center published in the journal Pediatrics reveals that cellphone addiction is increasingly leading to distracted parenting which might affect cognitive, language and emotional development in children. Previous studies have shown that TV, even if it is on in the background, negatively affects parent-child interaction.
According to another study conducted by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention and reported by the Wall Street Journal, injuries among young children are on the rise as the number of Americans who own a smartphone increases. Most of us know how a moment of distraction at the playground or swimming pool can be fatal but still fail to ask ourselves if it’s really crucial to reply instantly to a text or email that just popped up on our phone.
A boon for busy Moms
Let’s not get it wrong. Smartphones can be a boon for working as well as stay-at-home Moms (WAHM’s and SAHM’s). There are some wonderful apps that can help busy Moms to stay organized, offer prayers on time, learn Quran or teach their kids. With just a touch we can share our thoughts, photos and videos with family and friends across the globe, thus helping ourselves overcome that a feeling of isolation so prevalent in the western world. They also allow us to have that much needed “me-time”, if only we use them judiciously.
…not a bane
How do we ensure that our smartphones remain a boon not a bane for us? Here are some tips.
Budget your time – If you work from home, define specific working hours and stick to them. In a polite manner make it clear to your clients and colleagues that they should not expect you to answer calls or respond to texts/emails round the clock.
Set a time for enjoying that much needed “me-time” such as when the kids are at school or taking a nap.
Define priorities – Ask yourself if that text message which just popped up needs to be responded to instantly. Is it worth missing the moment when your child scores a goal in his soccer match?
While you are watching your kids play in the park, is it more important for you to catch up on some exercise or to check the latest tweets?
Set specific limits – Be strict about when and where phones are allowed. Unless absolutely necessary, refrain from using your smartphone during mealtimes or while sitting down with the kids during their homework.
Edit your notification settings – If you find it hard to resist the lure of checking your phone every time there is a “ding” or a “buzz”, change your notification settings so that you receive only important alerts and can check the rest as per your convenience.
Look up and around
Our children are a blessing as well as a responsibility entrusted to us by Allah SWT. They should not be made to compete with our smartphones or devices for our attention.
We often hear parents complaining about teenagers not communicating enough with them and spending too much time on their devices. If we, as parents do not make communication with our kids a priority how can we expect them to do so when they grow older?
Let’s look up from our smartphones and look into our children’s eyes. Let’s see the curiosity, innocence, affection, dreams and desires in them. They are much more interesting than all those apps and social media channels. The likes and tweets can wait but those precious childhood moments are not here to stay. Let’s not allow our smartphones to turn us into distracted parents.
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