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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.

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          Last Updated on July 18, 2019

          10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home

          10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home

          Your house is more than just a building that you live in. It should be a home that makes you feel welcome as soon as you open the front door.

          Making your house feel like a home is not something that simply happens on its own. You need to make some changes to a house when you move in, to give it that cozy, warm feeling that turns it into a true home. To help you speed the process, follow this guide to 10 small changes to make your house feel like a home.

          1. Make the Windows Your Own

          When you move into a home, they often come with boring Venetian blinds or less than attractive curtains.

          One of the best ways you can instantly warm your home and make it showcase your style is to add some new window dressing. Adding beautiful curtains not only improves your home’s appearance, but it can also help to control the temperature.

          2. Put up Some Art

          If you have a lot of bare walls in your home, it will seem sterile no matter how beautiful your paint or wallpaper is.

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          Hanging art on the walls will instantly give it personality and make it feel like home.

          3. Improve the Aroma

          A house that is not filled with inviting smells will never feel like a home. There are loads of ways you can make your home smell nice. There are tons of air fresheners on the market you can use.

          Incense and scented candles are a nice option as well. Don’t forget that baking in a home is also a great way to fill it with an aroma that instantly smells like home as soon as you open the front door.

          4. Put out Lots of Pillows and Throws

          A great way to make your home look warm and inviting is to place lots of pillows and throws out on the furniture. It is much better to have too many pillows than not enough.

          There is nothing like the feeling of sinking into a cushiony pillow that feels like a cloud to make you feel like you are at home.

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          5. Instantly Class up Your Closet

          If your closet is filled with wire or plastic hangers, it will never truly feel homey. To instantly make your closet feel classy, change out your old hangers for wooden ones.

          Not only do they look great, but they are better for hanging your clothes as well.

          6. Improve Your Air Quality

          One of the most overlooked ways to make your house feel more like a home is to improve its air quality.

          The easiest and best way to upgrade the air quality in your home is to change the old, dirty filters in your furnace regularly. Get some air filters delivered to your home so that you always have some on hand.

          7. Fill it with Plants

          Another way to improve the air quality in your home is to fill it with plants. You should have plants in every room of your home.

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          They help to improve the air quality and they look beautiful. As well as making your home appear homier, plants also help to boost your mood and lower your stress levels.

          8. Change the Doorknobs

          Most people don’t really give their doorknobs a second thought unless they are broken. That is a shame because changing your doorknobs is an easy way to add personality to your home.

          Changing your old, boring doorknobs to new ones that are works of art will instantly brighten your home.

          9. Upgrade Your Tub or Shower

          There is nothing like luxuriating in a whirlpool bath or steam shower to make the cares of the day melt away. Your family deserves a bit of luxury when they are in their bathroom.

          Install a new shower or tub today to make your bathroom worthy of a place in your home.

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          10. Fresh Cut Flowers

          You can make any room in your house feel homier by placing a vase full of beautiful flowers in it. The gorgeous look and intoxicating aroma of fresh cut flowers will immediately brighten your day when you encounter them.

          You don’t have to make all these changes at once. Try one or two a day though, and your house will feel like a home before you know it. The trick is to constantly keep adding these homey touches to make your home a place worthy of its name.

          Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-wooden-round-analog-wall-clock-on-brown-wooden-wall-121537/ via unsplash.com

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