Have you ever noticed how culture glorifies multi-tasking and busyness? Lately, it seems we’re trying to accomplish more than ever in shorter and shorter periods of time. We buy faster and more efficient technology and install apps on our phones in the hopes of getting ahead.
In fact, some will even admit to a rush that comes from simultaneously answering emails, talking on the phone and scanning Facebook.
But what happens when we do all of this from the kitchen countertop as we serve our children their morning cereal? How is this constant multi-tasking lifestyle impacting our kids?
WIRED magazine recently explored this question. Its article, “How Multitasking on Mobile Affects Children of Divorce,” cited research and interviews that would be alarming for any parent – married or divorced – to read. For example, the piece describes how mobile users check their smartphones an average of 150 times a day. That’s once every six-and-a-half minutes!
The honest modern-day parent will admit that, sadly, our kids must often compete for our time and for undivided eye contact, empathy and attention. We probably don’t want to acknowledge it, but most of our kids have tried to tell us a story only to hear a mindless, “Mm-hmm” because we were also trying to read an email or text message.
As one of our Focus counselors explained, undivided attention is a God-like parental quality. We might not be able to see God the Father, but He certainly sees and knows us intimately. However, how can our children accept those facts as truth if their own parents, who they can see, are unconnected to them? How can a child believe God truly hears his prayers if his earthly parents can’t put a phone down or look away from the computer long enough to truly listen?
The impact of our parenting goes beyond modeling spiritual truths to our children. It also influences our kids’ physical and social development.
So, the next time you’re waiting at the doctor’s office for an appointment with your son or daughter, might I recommend you talk or play with them instead of giving them your phone? You can even read a book together.
I’ll go even further and make an even bolder suggestion:
Consider taking a temporary “phone fast” to break any bad habits that you might have fallen into. Might 24 hours, 48 hours, or even a week without a handheld device nearby help you reconnect with your children?