Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
With work phone on one ear and personal phone on the other, moms can be on the phone all day. When I wrote about Moms and distracted driving, I encouraged moms to set their cell phones aside when driving. Not only does it model a strong value to our children, it is essential for safe driving.
Cell phones are a contentious topic. If we model proper usage of cell phones and teach our children appropriate values around cell phones, we can make more use of the cell phones benefits and minimize its detriments.
Problem Talking on cell phone while grocery shopping
One might argue that this can be dangerous, but setting that argument aside – have you ever observed a mom in the grocery store chatting on her cell phone with her three children trailing behind her? She’s pulling things off the shelf, occasionally looking back at her children to make sure they are still with her, and ignoring the cereal boxes they are pulling off the shelf and leaving on the floor. When she arrives at the cashier, she continues to talk, disregarding the greeting of the cashier, stumbling to get her credit card out and walking out of the store still engaged heavily in the most important phone conversation.
What this teaches First of all, the lack of supervision of the children just gets my blood boiling. Next, when women don’t care about airing their personal business in public, I get a little worried. Furthermore, the children are – not only hearing her personal conversation along with all the other shoppers – but their mother is demonstrating rude behavior by what I consider to be rude treatment of the store employees.
Solution Put the cell phone away when you enter a store. There is no need to be accessible – aside from emergencies – while you are grocery shopping with your children.
Problem Using cell phones in restaurants
What makes us think we need to answer our phones while we are out to dinner with our family? It’s understandable if you and your spouse are out to dinner and the babysitter calls, but – other than that – there are few reasons a person should bring their cell phone to the dinner table when dining out.
What this teaches When your children are with you and you answer the phone, the message they are getting is that they are not as important as this person on the other end of the phone. When you sit and talk on the phone during dinnertime, you are taking away from what psychologists tell us is very important family time.
Solution Turn off the cell phone when you enter a restaurant. If you need to keep it on, put it on vibrate. Or, revert back to the “good old days” and leave the name and number of the restaurant you will be at with your sitter in case of emergency.
Problem Using your cell phone while you’re at the park with your children
I know. I know. It’s a great time to make use of while your children are occupied – I remember the days of taking young children to the park. You had to watch them every moment, follow them around, catch them at the end of the slide, and push them on the swing. When they get a bit older – you have a little more liberty, and I do encourage you to take advantage of it – but I also recommend you choose something that does not take your attention entirely away from your children. Browse through a magazine. Enjoy watching them have a good time. Play with them. When was the last time you were on a swing at the playground?
What this teaches Our children hear our conversations when we think they are not listening so gossip on the playground is probably not a good idea. If you are not paying attention to your children on the playground, it is easier for them to wander off, get bullied by another child, or get hurt without you noticing. How guilty do we feel when we realize the crying child is ours and we have no idea what happened to him?
Solution Don’t use the playground in place of a babysitter. If you are at the playground with your children, be at the playground with your children. Find ways to interact with them, play a game with them and be involved in what they are doing.
Our children are growing up in a world where cell phones are a significant and unquestioned part of life. It is up to us to create values and controls over cell phone usage so that when our children come of age to have their own phones, they do not get swept up in the over usage and inappropriate usage that is so prevalent today.