Texting While Parenting
MATTHEWS, N.C. - With three boys, Barbara Johnston has her hands full, but her attention was often divided. She says, "My life revolved around my phone." Admitting that was the first step. Johnston started a rule for herself: no phones until after the boys go to bed.
She says, "I wasn't paying attention to my children the way I needed to. My boys never got hurt but I definitely think it was a possibility."
A recent Wall Street Journal article reads, "injuries to kids under age five rose 12 percent between 2007 and 2010 after falling for much of the prior decade." Coincidentally, the number of Americans who own a smart phone has grown from 9 million in 2007 to 114 million in July 2012, explains the article.
While some parents scoff at the idea their phones could be dangerous distractions, Dr. Monique May of Pine Lake Family Physicians in Mint Hill says at the very least, the devices can negatively impact quality time. She says, "Just like when you're having a conversation with anyone else that you want to convey the importance of that, you look them in the eye."
Dr. May says sometimes, a parent's phone addiction even plays out in her exam rooms. She says, "When I get a little frustrated is when they don't seem to be wrapping up the call when it's clear that I need to talk to them."
Back at Johnston's house, the boys are decorating for Halloween. Barbara is in on the action, with no electronic distractions. She says, "We don't need our phones when we're with them. The most important people in my life are right here."
Experts say most people don't realize how distracted they are by devices and that parents often underestimate how much time they take to text or read a tweet.