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Parents busy with smart phones not paying enough attention to kids

Smart phone

DENVER — If you’re more focused on your smart phone than your children, you may be pushing them away from you and encouraging bad behavior … without even realizing it’s happening.

When parents are distracted by their cell phone when they’re spending time with their kids, it’s sending the wrong message to the children.

In fact many times parents react negatively when their kids try to pull them away. And that leaves the children struggling to compensate for attention.

Some of us adults have become so engrossed in smart phones, they’re making us less “smart” as parents.

“They are checking emails or sending texts and pushing a kid on a swing at the same time  or trying to have dinner and still texting and reading emails and it’s a real problem,” says child psychologist Dr. Sheryl Zeigler.

A study done in Boston found that all the attention to devices takes parents away from parenting. It creates conflict.

“I think they’re ignoring their children and I think the kids are pretty upset about it,” says Dr. Jeanne Floerke, child psychologist.

She sees kids acting out with bad behavior having to compete with a device for attention. “Kids are saying ‘pay attention to me’ so I think what we need to do is engage in positive behavior with our kids, turn off the cell phones, and interact with your kids.”

Or else they’re likely to seek other ways to get attention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics plans to develop parental guidelines for smart phone use in front of children, like it did for using TV. “Set times when they tell their children ‘for the next five minutes I have to create an email and send it out. When I am done I will put my phone away and I will spend time with you,'” Dr. Zeigler says.

“It’s not going to go anywhere. “You can get back to that information, you can get back to that technology later, but your kids are going to grow up and you’re going to miss them,” Dr. Floerke says.

And that is time you won’t get back.

Both child psychologists say this is a recent phenomenon and parents often don’t realize how much they’re ignoring their kids.

They both recommend being aware of it and setting aside time just to be with the kids.