For years, experts have raised concern over how much phone time kids have each day. But now the tables have turned and parents in the firing line.
Parents guilty of putting their head down to check social media, send a few texts or read their emails have been shamed by a new report, which says their digital addiction is causing big problems for their children.
The report, which was launched on Tuesday by the Queensland government, reveals that thousands of kids across the state are stressed by school work and crave extra attention from parents, who are often consumed in their phone.
The landmark survey, which spoke with 7000 children aged between four and 18, shows far too many kids are feeling ignored by their parents because of their technology use.
According to the study, the vast majority of what child participants told the survey is that they are wanting “adults to pay attention, have respectful conversations, and listen to what they have to say about the things important to them”.
“The are asking parents to put their phones down and to interact with them,” the paper, sent to news.com.au, read.
Speaking to news.com.au, child psychologist Dr Justin Coulson said when parents use their phones around children, they are offering “partial attention at best”.
“Kids need their parents’ focus. It’s how we show them we love them,” he told news.com.au. “While we stare at screens they interpret that to mean that they are less important than Facebook or email.
“If we do it often enough, that partial attention becomes a sources of stress. We’ve got good quality studies that show our partial attention impacts relationships negatively, reduces sense of belonging, and leads to feelings of exclusion.
“Studies are now highlighting that being on a device severely limits people’s ability to focus on anything that requires their brain to concentrate. A few studies have now shown that even being in the presence of smartphones (while turned off) can reduce our attention and damage our relationships.”
The Queensland Family and Child Commission will use the findings to advocate for young Queenslanders and influence decision-makers to consider the views of young people when developing policy.
“There is a lot of criticism these days of our young people and their addiction to screens. But what they tell us is they’re being driven to everything digital — games for recreation, screens for education, websites for resources, but what they actually want is real conversations and connections.” QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the report is a great eye-opener for many Queenslanders — especially parents.
“My children are the most important part of my life, but like every other working mum I know how hard it can be to step away from work because we now carry our work around with us in the form of our phones,” Mrs D’Ath said in a statement.
“It’s important to remember that we can’t expect our kids to switch off from electronic devices if we as parents are not.
“We need to try and communicate with our children and importantly our teenagers. This includes being willing to listen, not just talk.
“Importantly, just as we encourage children to reach out if they need someone to talk to, including Kids Helpline, as parents we should be willing to reach out for help when we struggle to manage these challenges.”