Oh Mom, Dad, Get off the Phone Now!

by Aruna Kamath

Mom, Dad, can you connect with me instead?

Be honest. Are you one of those ‘mobile-addict’ parents who always have their face buried in their phone? Do you spend more time talking or texting on your phone than spending time with your kid? Well even if you are, you probably weren’t aware of it, until your exasperated child pointed that out to you and remarked blatantly “Ma, can you put down that phone, this instant and listen to me instead!” or “Your phone is more important than I am”.

n fact, the increasing trend of mobile addiction amongst parents reveals that most parents are hooked to the device even during a meal!! Now, isn’t that a shame! When the child is vying for your attention, you are deeply absorbed in your phone! If you haven’t realized it yet, you’re making a big mistake that could have some deep psychological effects on your child.

By ignoring your child, you’re not only sending out strong signals that you’re not interested in the child but also encouraging it to become rebellious. The child feels neglected and doesn’t get enough attention, so he becomes irritable and impatient. Your efforts to discipline the child may prove futile and only end up in more tantrums and misbehavior.

But that’s not all; Children learn a lot from face-to-face interactions. They learn how to interact and have a conversation and to read other’s people emotions. Imagine what your child is missing out, if you have your face buried in your mobile all the time.

Isn’t it about time we paid more attention to our children than these cheeky devices that have begun to rule our lives? Fortunately, it’s not hard to break the habit if you have some self-imposed rules and strategies.

Here are a few tips and strategies that you could adopt to give your phone the cold shoulder.

Silence the bleating:  Believe me there could be nothing more annoying than the constant beep of the mobile which is trying to get your attention. The best way to shut it out, is to silence it by turning on the phone into vibrator mode.   Believe me, if there is an emergency, people will find out other ways to get in touch with you.

Set a ‘no-phone’ curfew hours:Set a few hours during the day when the phone is not allowed to be answered, come what may. It may be difficult to let go all at once. So, you could either stagger it between morning and evening – before leaving for office and after getting back home. This may be difficult, but if you make a conscious effort, it’s not impossible.

Get it out of sight, out of mind: If you think the temptation to use the phone is high, ask the kids to hide it away during the curfew hours. Kids, you’ll agree, can be tough cookies in controlling you. So you can expect this trick to work well.

Screen your calls and e-mails: If the person you are with is more important than that call or message, then prove it by ignoring to respond to it. The only other people who know that you’re around are the ones sitting beside you. So don’t answer the phone, unless it is really important or necessary.

An app that helps you put down your phone: Moment, is an app that keeps track of your phone usage. It runs quietly in the background, and keeps tab of all your activities … whether you’re opening an app, checking your text messages, sending a video, or using your phone for any other activity. Set up the app to gauge your usage and habits around the clock. Once you take stock of how much time you’re spending on the phone, you will be able to judge what’s reasonable – and what’s not. This way, you can also set up time limits that will alert you when you cross them.

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