RANDALL-YOUNG: Benign neglect

By on May 19, 2017
(Photodisc/Thinkstock).

Are computers and cell phones contributing to the “benign neglect” of our children? I remember when my children were little, and how hard it was for them to wait five or ten minutes until I got off the phone. However, when we were in the car, at the park, shopping or watching a sibling’s sporting event, they had my full attention.

Things are different now. Often parents have their cell phones on all the time, so conversations with children are often interrupted while Mom or Dad takes a call. The calls may go on for a long time, or there may be many calls. Consequently, children are not getting the quality time with parents that they used to. Children get the message that whoever is calling is more important than they are.

Similarly, parents may spend a lot of time on the computer, either working, checking e-mails, surfing the web, or playing games. Children do this too, and the end result is a family that may be together, but within that seeming togetherness, each is leading a more independent existence.

Bonding and interacting with family members are crucial elements to the healthy social and emotional development of children. There are also many opportunities for learning, as children are full of questions if they feel Mom or Dad is interested in what they have to say.

Take a moment to assess how technology is impacting your family life. Perhaps you will decide to turn off your cell phone when you are with the children, or save your computer time until they are in bed. Giving full attention to children sends them a strong message about their worth.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca.

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