It’s no secret that we are living in an increasingly digital society. This is a beautiful advancement, enhancing our lives in ways unimaginable a decade ago. We use our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices to log on and communicate wirelessly with our friends and family around the world. Today our cell phones are allowing us to ditch landlines and long distance plans in favor of authentic and instant communication anytime.
All of this connectivity can help forge bonds and increase family interaction, but often we walk a fine line when allowing technology to invade our lives. Our actions are sending powerful messages to our children, and if we are constantly snapping selfies or scrolling through posts we might be doing more harm than good.
The prevalence of social media in our lives has the ability to enrich our families and better our lives. However, if we fail to balance technology we can leave our children feeling left out or neglected.
With each swipe or like, we may be unintentionally sending signals to our daughters and sons that our devices are more important to them.
Several experts at the Boston Medical Center noticed this trend after watching parents and children interact in waiting rooms. These observations led researchers to conduct an anthropological study where they observed family interactions during meals at fast food chains. The data they collected found nearly 73 percent of parents used mobile devices during dinner and often appeared to “zone out” their children.
Catherine Steiner-Adair, psychologist, said, “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”
3 Reasons To Examine Our Own Social Media Use
By understanding the possible dangers, we can be proactive and more intentional with our social media usage. We all agree that social media and our devices have a time and place in our lives, but it is vital that we examine some possible side effects technology can have on our kids. By knowing the possible negatives, we can avoid these pitfalls to raise healthy and happy children.
Listed below are three common ways our love for social media can backfire on our toddlers:
- Research has discovered a strong connection between parents who overuse digital devices and children who feel neglected. Constantly checking social media might be sending our toddlers the unintended message they aren’t valued enough to receive our undivided attention. Overusing devices can result in children experiencing anxiety or depression.
- Heavy social media use may be robbing our children from face-to-face time with us. Studies have proven that daily interactions and conversations are crucial elements for child development. Surprisingly, the amount of words a toddler hears can impact their future successes.
- Our social media use may be encouraging narcissism to develop in kids. As we document and upload our sons’ and daughters’ cuteness overloads, we are demonstrating our kids’ importance in our lives. While it’s critical to value our kids, we might be setting them up to value their self worth on likes and shares. This can develop into a lack of empathy and feelings of entitlement.
Balanced Choices: Tips To Help
With a little balance and a few intentional choices we can prevent social media from affecting our toddlers and parenting, consider the following easy solutions to limit negative side effects of social media on our toddlers:
Allow yourself a “fixed” amount of time everyday to use social media. Go ahead and indulge for thirty or forty-five minutes every day when the kidlets are down for a nap. However, when the time limit is over, power down and focus on your toddlers.
Create technology free spaces. Designate areas in the home where no phones or devices are allowed. Many families have found ideal “no technology zones” are the family dinner tables and bedrooms.
Embrace the everyday moments you have with your toddler. Take advantage of walks, car rides, diaper changes, bath times, and more. These little interactions can yield wonderful opportunities to make big memories.
Model a healthy relationship with technology. Toddlers are great at mimicking our behaviors: even the questionable ones. Lead by example, because we never know when little eyes or ears are watching.
It’s only natural to be concerned about technology’s potential impact on our parenting. Please share how you keep social media from affecting your toddlers.
Written by blogger Hilary Smith