Parents on Screens: are we modelling healthy habits?

So I haven’t been working on my blogs for a while as I’ve been really busy with other projects. I’ve been neglecting blogging!

But I thought it is time to put fingers to the keyboard with some thoughts…about fingers on the keyboards….

Is parental screen time, whether it be smartphones, tablets, computers, tv, gaming, really worse than parents chatting to friends and phone calls like the old days. Really a lot of screen time is social interaction or relaxation time isn’t it?

How bad is it really?

I guess, like the picture above, if you are not paying attention then it is not OK. But isn’t this the same as with anything?

The topic is present in my mind because I’ve been busy and doing a lot of work on the computer lately. It got me thinking about the children and young people that I have worked with in the past who have told me how much they don’t like their mothers spending so much time on their Iphones/smartphones/computers etc.

As a consequence I have always been mindful of this but felt I never had to worry too much, as I have not been a person really into checking my facebook, txts etc with very much regularity.

Years ago when I was doing so much computer work when we were establishing the Queenstown Lakes Family Centre – a free counselling centre in Queenstown. My kids were very little babies and I only really worked when they were asleep or at Kindy. You physically can’t as it is so hands on during that time.

So this was an issue for others – not me (I thought!) – until recently when my husband gave me an Ipad for my birthday. This called for much more restraint as the wonderful bigger screen allowed me to not only quickly and easily check emails, Linkden etc with ease but Google everything!

Recent work commitments have me working a lot on my computer at the kitchen table in lieu of an office. I thought I would only work while the kids are at school, or at night. But this is not my reality. Too much work, not enough hours in the day, very tired at night…the list goes on. You get the picture though. Kids home….me on computer quickly doing one more thing.

I know this is not good, as then I am not interacting with my children.

Parent-child communication and interaction are vital for children and young people. If we are on computers, smartphones or tablets we cannot be interacting or communicating with our children. It is something I struggle with particularly when I am busy with working at home. I am sure there are many others of you like this.

If we keep our own ‘work’ time (which requires screens) away from children as much as possible then we are keeping the time we have spare for being ‘present’ for our kids. As I have mentioned in past posts, this doesn’t have to mean that we spend all our time with them, but that we are at least accessible and available if they need us, or want to talk to us – most of the time.

Again this is not concrete – it is fluid and there are of course times that we are there but not available, and that is OK.

But there is no doubt that it is a tricky issue!

How different is it from me sitting in the sun reading a magazine while my kids play nearby? If I am engrossed in reading I’m distracted too right?

There is no easy answer. My feeling is that we have to adjust with the times. Devices and screens are where things are at and they are not going to go away any time soon.

What kids mostly need from us as parents is to learn balance and self discipline around all things in their lives. We as parents can model this as much as we can, then children will learn it.

How can we say it is not good for them to be on screens too much or for too long, if we are doing it ourselves?


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