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Quality Time Versus Quantity Time: Why Modern Parents Need to Switch Off Their Phones

Quality Time Versus Quantity Time: Why Modern Parents Need to Switch Off Their Phones

As I race from the school run to the babysitter and from ballet lessons to football practice, my phone is ringing constantly and I know that I have at least 40 e-mails and phone calls to return.  But Friday is my day with the kids so I pretend to ignore all this work — at least until I am sitting at the sidelines of a football game. Then I pull out my smartphone and get some things done. Nobody knows the difference, right? Sure, I saw the goal you scored.

Then on the way home from the game, we stop for a quick bite at a fast food joint as a treat to us all on our only proper day together. When I’m there and the kids are talking amongst themselves, I munch on my burger, sip my Diet Coke and return a few more e-mails. Everybody’s happy. I have gotten all my jobs done. I have gotten the kids from all the point A’s to all the point B’s. We have had fun. We have eaten. This is the way life is now, right? Maybe, but it’s not how it should be. Multiple research studies are now showing that these habits are not conducive to our children’s academic success, intellectual development, social and emotional skills and much more.

There’s more to being together than physical presence

little girls whispering
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    A recent study published in the medical journal “Pediatrics,” conducted by a team from Boston Medical Center, found that parents who use their smartphones in fast food restaurants talk less to their kids than parents who do not use such phones. One third of all parents observed used their phone for the entire meal, never once interacting with their child.

    This is bad news for intellectual development because one of the single best predictors of intellectual advancement is the amount of face-to-face conversation kids get with their parents. It is also important to know that according to psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley in their book “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,” it is close to impossible to make up for lost time after the early years of life.

    In their research, Hart and Risley had three main findings. The first was that the variation in children’s IQ scores and language abilities is relative to the amount parents speak to their children. Their second main finding was that children’s academic successes at ages nine and 10 are attributable to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three. The third is that parents of advanced children talk significantly more to their children than parents of children who are not as advanced. So the implications of these findings from the Boston Medical Center team for our children’s welfare may not be so heartening.

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    We now live in a fast-paced world in which people are always remotely contactable and in which there is very little room for “down time,” even when we are technically “off the clock.” So if parents are frequently or almost continually responding to e-mails, voice mails, SMS texts, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn alerts during their “quality time with the kids,” the long-term consequences may be felt in terms of reduced intellectual development, and in terms of the effects of such poor interpersonal experiences on emotional and social development.

    The importance of talking to your child

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      If we consider Hart and Risley’s research, it is clear that by increasing early language interaction and increasing the number of words spoken to a child, we may be able to significantly impact on the child’s IQ and academic success even several years later. And while it is not yet certain that this is the case, it is increasingly certain that reducing the social interaction we have with children increases the risk of a whole range of problems during intellectual development. We now know that the parents of less intellectually advanced children have had less language interactions with their children. So the clear message to parents is that our face-to-face verbal interaction with our kids is at least as important as the emotional bonds we form with them. Simply talking to our children often and with our full attention will increase their chances scholastically, and failing to do so may actually reduce their scholastic achievement.

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      All of this is not to say that every parent should abandon their smartphone or indeed let go of the multitude of responsibilities of the modern work place. But it does suggest that parents need to be more aware of the effects of communication devices on their relationships with their children. Setting boundaries for their use is a good place to start in curbing their negative effects, but this may involve some hard choices about our family values and what we expect from our careers and how they dovetail with what we want for our families.

      The importance of eating meals together without distractions

      family eating

        Interestingly, it turns out that the even if it has to be in silence, it is a good idea for families to eat as many meals together as possible, undistracted by TVs and mobile devices. The more meals a family sits down to together during the week, the better the outcomes for the kids mentally, emotionally, and intellectually.

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        The Purdue University Center for Families (CFS) has produced several reports on the benefits of families eating together. The positive outcomes include better-developed vocabularies, higher reading scores, better school grades and overall better long-term academic outcomes. Indeed, eating meals together was a better predictor of school success than coming from a two-parent family, which has long been considered more advantageous for school results than coming from a one-parent family.

        The CFS at Purdue has also found that children of families who eat together are less likely to smoke, drink and take drugs. As if that was not enough, these kids also have better conversational skills, are more courteous, and feel more connected to their families. Finally, the CFS reported on the importance of family meals for promoting healthier eating habits in children and reducing their chances of suffering with eating disorders and obesity (see www.cfs.purdue.edu/CFF/publications/publications.html).

        These findings may serve as a reminder for modern parents to slow down, switch off the phone and pay attention to the little people in front of you. It has never been more clear that what kids need to thrive is not just “quantity time” with their parents, but genuine quality time.

        family watching trains

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          Last Updated on January 17, 2019

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

          Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

          Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

          Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

          Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

          The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

          There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

          How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

          According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

          Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

          Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

          The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

          Listen carefully:

          We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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          The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

          Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

          8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

          There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

          Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

          1. Pray Daily

          You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

          When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

          Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

          Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

          2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

          A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

          By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

          Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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          If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

          This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

          How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

          3. Smile Often

          Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

          Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

          Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

          The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

          4. Organize Your Working Desk

          A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

          When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

          Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

          Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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          5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

          I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

          Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

          What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

          6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

          God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

          I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

          I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

          7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

          You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

          How do you do that? This is my formula:

          First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

          If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

          If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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          If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

          Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

          8. Go Exercise

          Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

          The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

          You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

          12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

          The Bottom Line

          It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

          It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

          Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

          More Resources About Mindfulness

          Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

          Reference

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