Geekwire recently reported that the latest Pew Research survey found 95 percent of teenagers have access to a smartphone. “Smartphone ownership is nearly universal among teens of different genders, races and ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds,” the report confirms. The research suggests that the 45 percent figure has nearly doubled from the last related survey conducted in 2014-15. To add another component, in the study, 45 percent of teens say they are online almost constantly each day. Okay, lets just not pick on the kids. Let’s see what stats say about their parents.
Smartphone addiction is a real thing. U.S. adults check their phone on an average of 52 times a day. That’s up from the results in 2017, which reported 47 times a day. To make matters worse, the average person spends over four hours a day on their phone.
So, what the heck is everyone so connected? The dyer need for information or the desire to be and/or feel connected with friends and family on social media is the driving force.
How is all of this effecting the bonding for families within a household? Are families spending all of their free time on their phones?
The answer is clear – YES!
Cell phones are an invaluable source of communication. But with all good things, come the negative things as well. The compulsive usage of cell phones has created an addiction amongst society. Ultimately, the interpersonal relationship building is crippled due to the non-existent communication efforts within a family unit. All in all, society is in denial because they are addicted and do not want to admit the problem. Sometimes an intervention is necessary. Consider this an intervention. Here are the many ways phones are replacing good ol’ family bonding in your house:
Text messages, app updates, emails, new social media posts, news alerts, and other alerts are the common disruptions that take up a good chunk of time. It’s family movie night and your phone alert goes off, the simple check can lead to valuable time away from you family. Even though your intention is to only take 30 seconds and identify the alert, you may get side tracked or take more time to respond to the alert.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Create a non-alert mode on your phone. When you are home, silence your alerts. Be intentional with your time and do not get side tracked. There are settings on most phones that allow you to set non-alert parameters. If it is an emergency, your phone can allow certain people’s calls to come through – and set off an alert.
Dinner around the table should be a daily must. There will be times when practices, school events, and long hours at the office will prohibit family dinner from taking place. Nonetheless, implementing this tradition is a great way to reinforce good habits. But normal family conversation and updates cannot naturally occur if phones are present at dinner.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Take a basket or a bowl, place it in an area, away from the dinner table. Before joining dinner, each family member must put their phone in the basket or bowl. This will alleviate any distractions and foster a good family dynamic – to reinforce the idea of family first. Work: Adults are linking their work emails to their personal phones because they are worried about falling behind. The unhealthy imbalance sets a precedence to children – work is more important than family time. In comparison, students are utilizing their phones as a research device. But, let’s be honest, the phone is a distraction and is not being used for just homework.
Adults are linking their work emails to their personal phones because they are worried about falling behind. The unhealthy imbalance sets a precedence to children – work is more important than family time. In comparison, students are utilizing their phones as a research device. But, let’s be honest, the phone is a distraction and is not being used for just homework.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Set boundaries! If you must take your work home, then only check your emails during a set amount of time and make sure that time is limited. If your child is using their phone for schoolwork, then limit that time. Set up screen restrictions and parental limitations that only allow your student to use the device for schoolwork.
Ask yourself, do you and your children really need a phone? Before you click that x in the top right corner, keep reading. Yes, viewing at social media, watching videos or looking at the news can be relaxing activities but monitor your screen time. There is no reason anyone, adult or child, needs access to their phone 24/7. The same rule is true for children. Another element parents must assess is the age a child receives a phone.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Be honest with yourself and monitor how long you are spending on your phone. Then monitor your child’s phone time. It might sound harsh but put your phone down. Stop using your phone and find something to occupy your phone. Try reading a book (you can even read a book together as a family), incorporate a weekly family game night (must be a board game), set up a reward system for the family member that can go the longest without their phone (the winner gets a special reward), or go outside (walk, bicycle ride, bonfire with smores, etc.).
Don’t kid yourself, the majority of families have replaced family bonding with phone bonding. If everyone is proactive and takes the matter seriously, then things can change. Technology is a wonderful thing and phones have bridged the gap in many ways; however, it is very important for boundaries to be designated and followed in every family. There may be times family members fall into a slump but setting a strong foundation will help families grow together and take back their bonding time.