2 February, 2023

Fathers, kids and cell phones

The cell phone has become the main distractor for parents and they disconnect from their children. Photo: Courtesy.

By Dra. Margarita Mendoza Burgos

World – The cell phone has become much more than a phone. It is a small metal object that communicates with the world., informs us, provides us with music, of movies… It is at the same time radio, TV, book, Newspaper, GPS, dictionary and hundreds of other functions... Too much temptation to forget about it for a couple of hours.

But nevertheless, disconnecting from it at certain periods is more than recommended for our mental health and for the good of our children. It is essential that the time we spend with them the cell phone is not a distracting element, let alone interrupt a good family moment. For children it can have serious consequences.

Psychologists and other child development experts have researched over the years how their parents' use of new technologies affects children while helping families maintain responsible use of digital devices..

A few years ago, the Boston Medical Center did an interesting study: looked in detail at 55 groups of parents and young children while eating at fast food restaurants and the behaviors of both were recorded, including how often parents used their phones during mealtime.

The results were amazing. They found that 40 of the 55 they took out a mobile device during the meal, and while some only looked at him briefly. Around the 40% they were engrossed in their screen throughout the meal, completely ignoring their children.

According to the researchers of this study, adults who were focused on their devices, were more likely to respond harshly to boys, both physically and verbally.

When the child tried to talk and the parent responded off-time or with another topic that was not in tune with what the child was saying, the response to this ignorance was translated into actions to get the child's attention or total resignation.

Illustrative photo / courtesy

Research by psychologists at the University of Essex, of another kind but equally valuable, found that the mere presence of a mobile phone on the table - even if it is turned off- makes those around the table feel more disconnected, and keep conversations shallower and more focused on minor topics for fear of being interrupted.

It is definitely an aspect that parents should take care of.. The first feeling that our children perceive when seeing a parent pending their smartphone is that they are not important and that they do not pay attention to what they are talking about. Little by little they will copy this usage too, since this has been their example and they will see it as something normal.

Nothing is more important than our children, therefore they deserve even more respect than any stranger who is sending us a message or watching a viral Tik Tok video.

It is only recommended to use it to answer if it is something urgent and limit the call to the minimum possible time.

further, it will be difficult for a father addicted to the phone to impose rules on his children, especially when using mobile devices. Here it is a matter of leading by example. On the contrary, they will say that it is unfair and in the end it will be difficult to control them.

Beyond how harmful the use of the telephone is for the family group in terms of the interruption of communications, There is another not minor detail. How dangerous it is to neglect a child, even more if it is small, for distracting yourself with the cell phone.

Whether using it in a meal is considered disrespectful, do it in other circumstances (driving, walking, etc.), could be little less than an attack and become fatal. There have been cases that by talking on the cell phone and not paying attention, the children cross a street, if they fall or cause an accident.

For all this, It is best that parents have their own space to check the phone. For example, getting up before the children to check mail and messages.

It is essential to keep food, bedtime or moments in the vehicle free of technologies, in order to find moments that allow families to chat without interruptions.