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Facts for All Ages

Unplug and Plug-In Your Family


We are a connected society. Connected to smart-phones and computers. Engrossed in the wonder of the internet…you media, streaming movies and downloading music. Entertained by funny quotes, videos and pictures. Enticed by shopping, sales and auctions. We are connected…to a device that distracts us and replaces the "face time" we should be having with our families.

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and seen a family eating together and everyone has a device in their hand? It happens all of the time. Like everything else in life we have to be intentional about how we choose to spend our time. When it comes to our children we need to be even more intentional about the quality of the time we spend together. All too soon, they leave the nest and those face to face moments will become less frequent.

What are the consequences of our attention being more on a gadget than our children? Interestingly, Dr. Jenny Radesky, a child development specialist started noticing this behavior in her office. She kept track of how many parents were ignoring their children and looking at their mobile devices. The number was alarming and so was what these parents were missing. Dr. Radesky states that "one baby was making faces and smiling at the mom, and the mom was not picking up on any of it; she was just watching a video."

The consequences to this behavior can affect the development of your baby. The face-to-face interactions are one of the primary ways children learn. They learn about their emotions, conversation skills, and social cues from watching facial expressions. Dr. Radesky also discovered that when parents were using their mobile devices their children were more likely to act out in order to get their attention.

According to a study of 1,000 children between the ages of 4 to 18, the moments of disconnect between a parent and child can have emotional consequences for the child. This behavior is telling our children that they are not as interesting or compelling as a phone call, text, or alert from our phone. One young girl stated that she felt like she was just boring because her dad would take any call or any text anytime – even when on vacation and riding a ski lift with her.

Parents can benefit from taking time to unplug. This "down time" allows you to reduce stress and help you create a boundary between your work life and family life. You will not only connect with your children but also with other people who are important to you.

Make it a priority to unplug from what does not matter….and plug-in to the ones who do.

For more parenting tips visit Parenting 24/7 and the Family Files Blog!


Neighmond, Patti. "For the Children's Sake, Put Down That Smartphone." NPR. NPR, 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

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