10 Ways Your Smartphone Use Is Affecting Your Toddler
by Amy Williams
We all know the role good nutrition and early childhood education plays in our children’s development. We encourage our toddlers to play, learn their ABC’s, and develop healthy habits. While we strive to create the ultimate learning environment, many parents fail to realize the impact our own Smartphone use has on toddlers.
We are highly connected, using devices to juggle work and family which allows our phones to become an essential tool for managing our daily lives. Our technology is often seen as a tool to connect with others and make lives easier, but experts are starting to observe technology is interfering with our parenting skills and children’s well-being.
Technology does have a time and place, but placing our Smartphones and devices before our children’s needs can lead to emotional trauma and the development of physical problems. The following list is a compilation of possible unintended consequences our Smartphones may have on our families:
Feelings of anxiety and depression can be triggered in children. When parents use their Smartphones in the presence of their children, we are involuntarily showing kids that devices come first in our lives. Studies have shown that children feel neglected when parents constantly focus on their Smartphones.
Children miss out on learning language and communication skills. Toddlers need face-to-face interactions with their parents. Interacting and babbling with babies or small children is how kids learn and research has found a strong correlation between the number of words children hear and their future success or failure. It turns out that the more words kids experience, the better they perform in school.
Multitasking is detrimental to our health and productivity. New research has found that multitasking is inefficient. Taking one thing at a time can help parents be more intentional, reduce anxiety, and allow us to be more present in our children’s lives.
Smartphones can distract us and increase our risk for accidents. It doesn’t matter if we have the latest car seat models or hands free capabilities, data finds that 26 percent of all car crashes had cell phones listed as a causing factor. Cell phone use- even if you are just talking- slows your response time.
There is evidence that cell phones, including Smartphones, emit radiation. This is a controversial topic, but more and more research is showing a link between cell phones and cancer. Unknown to many, our beloved phones DO come with warnings listed in the user manuals. It might be a good idea to exercise caution, use hands free devices as much as possible and expectant mothers need to reconsider carrying their phones in a pocket near the developing baby for extended amounts of time.
“Affluenza,” narcissism, and entitlement behaviors in children have been linked to social media use. Parents love to boast about their children, but constantly updating their achievements can have our children falsely believing that they are important to everyone and deserve special treatment. As a child ages, they might begin to judge their appearances, milestones, or feedback based on their social media presence.
Addictions to technology and the Internet are easily formed in a developing brain. It’s no secret that a toddler’s brain is rapidly growing. If kids are exposed to the stimulating world of apps and social media, we can be setting them up to form hard-to-break addictions. We need to monitor our children’s online and Smartphone activity to avoid negative behaviors.
Besides language skills, our devices can interfere with bonding opportunities. According to the Attachment Bonding Theory, our children need close relationships with a caregiver to foster optimal brain development and positive relationship skills to succeed in life.
Technology can interfere with the ability to learn real world skills. Our kids do not remember a time before the Internet, but they still need to know practical skills like using maps, phone books, and how to use a dictionary. Batteries die or servers crash, we need to set our children up so they can thrive in a variety of situations.
Our children learn by our example! We need to display a healthy relationship with technology for our sons and daughters sake.
It might be difficult to imagine putting down our cell phones, but we have our children’s well being to keep in mind. It might not be easy, but with a little effort we can be more intentional when we are with our children.
As a parent, what is one way you will power down and show your child they matter today?
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyber-bullying and online safety.