Love your cellphone more than your kids?
Does your child have to bite you to get your eyes off the BlackBerry? Priorities, people!

My family were excited by a friend’s visit to our home. But our excitement quickly turned to dismay when our visitor spent most of her time texting on her cellphone and payed little or no attention to our conversation. Tired of our constant attempts to start a conversation with her, the visitor excused herself saying she wanted to rest. In the guest bedroom she talked on her cellphone for close to three hours before she went to bed.

The next morning she said her goodbyes and my family vowed never to invite her over again. She obviously preferred her cell phone to our company!

Parents face the same challenge of knowing how to split their time and attention between the cellphone, Facebook, Twitter, Skype... and their children. It’s very easy to get attached to electronic devises at the expense of giving attention to those we love.

In an article, New York Times writer Julie Scelfo related the following scenario which many parents will relate to: ‘The boy, about 2 1/2 years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry.

‘He’s like: “Mama? Mama? Mama?”’ she quotes,‘ and then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes: ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’

Finally, he was so frustrated that ‘he goes, “Ahhh!” and tries to bite her leg.’

The article mentions that child development researchers are becoming concerned with the effect of parental use of different technological devices on children. The researchers have found that children feel hurt and jealous when their parents ignore them while they are on the computer or cellphone.

As necessary as computers and cellphones are in our lives, parents need to balance the time they spend on these devices with the time they spend attending to their children. Kids develop by listening to their parents talk to them. If mummy or daddy spends hours browsing the net and ignoring the child isn’t the child being short-changed?

Children who grow up in a language rich environment develop faster mentally than those in an environment which is not language rich. If you do not talk to your child much you’re setting them up for failure by stunting the child’s language development and interpersonal skills.

Some parents have solved this problem by having cellphone-free times during the day for several hours where they focus on their child. Having meals as a family also helps some parents to find out what’s going on in their child’s life. Next time your child lingers by your side while you text an SMS or are check your Facebook account remember where your priorities lie.

Of course there are many advantages that may come from using these modern gadgets. If used properly they can afford you more time with your children as you are able to work from home. It seems the trick is to know how to strike a balance between time spent with your children and time spent with these gadgets.

Does your child ever take second place to your electronic gadgets?

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