Teaching Kids to Put the Phones Down

Teaching Kids to Put the Phones Down
Attending a child's birthday celebration at a roller skating rink, the kids were sitting on the benches playing on their phones much more than they were skating. The same happened when attending a movie. Kids were sitting next to each other. No one, however, was talking prior to the start of the movie. Everyone was on their phone. This lack of conversation and interaction was again noticeable during a band concert at our children's school. All the kids were pretty quiet backstage. While this may be considered to be a good thing, they weren't being quiet because their band director asked for silence prior to walking onstage. There was relative silence in the room because all the kids were on their phones. Can you imagine? Not one child was talking to those sitting around them. The kids who didn't have phones were looking over the shoulder of those who did. Rather than witnessing so many kids with such little interaction, I would have given anything to witness a few youngsters running around and making a little noise.

What are the repercussions to all this screen time? For one thing, a minuscule amount of time is being devoted to mastering the art of interaction. Watch what happens the next time you attend a wedding or a family picnic. What are the people under the age of 25 doing? odds are they are looking very uncomfortable. The number of twenty something's who say they suffer from social anxiety is staggering. All this time being entertained on a phone or screen of some sort has created a generation incapable of striking up a conversation with even their closest of friends.

Many of us who have had to push themselves to talk to strangers or distant relatives, know that it can be hard and at times intimidating. We powered through it, though. We came out the other side victorious in generating conversation which in the beginning was difficult to begin. We also discovered that people crave interactions. Until we make the effort, we don't know that the person who we would like to strike up a conversation with is equally nervous about making the first move to speak. This again is why it is so important to make your kids put away their phones and talk to them.

At a restaurant recently my husband Matt and I were enjoying dinner and partaking in a little people watching. A very beautiful family entered the restaurant - Mom, Dad, Daughter and Son. The daughter held an I-Pad and donned some headphones. The son was off his chair and complaining that it was his turn to play with it. Dad then handed the boy his phone while Dad perused the menu. Meanwhile Mom was busy texting. A family of four human beings sitting at a table. No one talking. Sad.

In our home we don't have phones on the table during dinner. This was especially hard for my husband. When I pointed out he needed to set an example for the kids, there was significant resistance. He needed to check in with work, he said. Actually, he needed to update his Clash of Clans and check in on Facebook. When the kids put their phones away and he followed suit the conversations increased as did out overall family satisfaction.

When other kids come to our home and eat a meal, I take the Mean Mom stance and tell them there won't be any phones at the table for anyone. This demand is always met with a rolling of the eyes and heavy sigh (don't you love the heavy sigh?). As soon as they are done sulking, all the kids realize it's kind of fun to have a conversation when eating dinner. Eating and conversing: what a concept.

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