My friend and I, on a walk recently, took turns venting about cellphones and kids, how despite our rules and attempts at boundaries we feared too much time with those little devices was distracting our children from schoolwork and cutting them off from family conversations.
We were describing a common 21st Century parental challenge, of course. It is one backed up by a new study that, interestingly, showed kids are frustrated, too. And not just because we tell them to put down their phones (though that does bug them).
Children, the study found, don't like when parents don't follow their own rules, checking email at the dinner table or sending a text at a red light. And they really don't like when parents share information about them on social media without their permission. In fact, children had pretty strong complaints about parental "over-sharing," found the study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan.
Other key findings: Children had an easier time following absolute rules (you can't go on this site) than "context" rules (you can't check your phone during dinner); and both parents and kids want family members to pay attention to them, not their devices, when they are together.
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"Managing kids' technology use was once much easier for parents - they switched off the television when a show was over or kept an eye on kids as they used the family computer in the living room," said lead author Alexis Hiniker, in a statement on the University of Washington's website.
Now that so many kids have their own smartphones, she noted, it has become "harder and harder to set those boundaries."
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Looking for help getting a handle on your family’s technology? Check out Families Managing Media, run by a Charlotte mom dedicated to reducing the stress for parents around screen time. Monthly meetings and workshops cover a variety of technology and parenting issues.