Smartphones have revolutionized the ways in which people interact with each other. But not all of those changes are necessarily positive. For families, phones can mean a lack of face time (real face time, not the iPhone kind) between parents and children.
A recent survey by NBC10’s parent company Comcast suggests that the majority of families want their interaction with each other to be free of phones. The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, revealed the following:
- Dinnertime is bonding time – Nearly every (98 percent) parent surveyed agrees that disconnecting from devices during mealtime improves family bonding.
- Parents can set an example – More than half (52 percent) of parents have been told by their children to put their device away during meals.
- Device-free meals are rare – More than 2 in 5 parents (42 percent) can’t remember the last time their family had a device-free meal. And Millennial parents have an especially hard time remembering the last time they broke bread without a device at the table (49 percent), compared to Gen Xers (37 percent) and Boomers (33 percent).
- Sneaking screen time - Parents admit to taking away their children’s devices an average of once per week and more than half (56 percent) have found their children trying to sneak their devices when they were banned from them.
- Going to extremes to disconnect – nearly one-third (31 percent) of parents make their children leave their devices in a basket before bedtime, while 14 percent go so far as to disconnect their modems to stop Wi-Fi usage.
Dr. Elizabeth Dowdell, a professor of Pediatric Nursing at Villanova University and expert on children and smart devices, provided tips for parents on how to encourage more time together away from their phones and computers.
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"Don't be afraid," Dr. Dowdell said. "That Internet is very intimidating. But at the end of the day, that child is the priority."
Dowdell urges parents to always talk with their child to maintain a strong parent-child relationship and set positive habits in the future.