Kaitlyn Tully
Center for Family Safety and Healing
National Pediatric Hospital*

Balancing caregiving needs with other life responsibilities is difficult for many parents. You have a lot to pay attention to and can get distracted by phone alerts or lose track of time scrolling through social media. During the pandemic, many parents’ lives have become even more digital. This can affect the health of your family.

“Technoference,” a term coined by researcher Brandon McDaniel, is defined as the daily disruption of our quality time together due to technology. Parents who are digitally distracted interact less with their children, and children may engage in more connection-seeking behaviors when parents are distracted. Children who compete are at higher risk for behavioral problems such as whining, restlessness, and tantrums. The best thing parents can do to disrupt “technoreference” is to build skills for digital wellbeing.

Digital wellbeing refers to the impact technology and digital services have on someone’s health, including emotional, social and physical health. This includes the device or app-based tools you use to manage your time online, the actions you decide to take online, and the emotional tools you use to process your online experiences. increase.

The first step to digital wellbeing is understanding how we interact with technology. Here are some statements to consider:

When I’m fiddling with my smartphone, I tend to forget the time.

If I don’t check my phone right away, I feel like I’m missing something important.

Instead of going to bed at bedtime, stay on your phone.

If these statements apply to you frequently, you have resources and support to help you find more balance in your life.

Digital wellbeing and screen time resources are available for Android and iPhone devices. Many social media platforms offer app-based resources such as screen time management, limits and media literacy tools like TikTok’s digital wellbeing tools. This is especially useful for users who tend to lose track of time on their device.

Common Sense Media provides articles and guidance for adults looking to keep their families safe and productive online, including the Family Toolkit developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children need “media guidance” from adults. It is important for adults to consider the relationship between technology and stress before implementing a digital strategy for young people.

Eliminating all screens from our lives is unrealistic. Especially for families with children of different ages. It is most helpful to consider the quality of digital media, how it fits into your family’s lifestyle, and how your children interact with digital media. A device-free dinner can create screen-free moments of connection for busy families.

Technology can have a positive impact on parenting, such as increasing access to inclusive communities and helping parents maintain relationships with long-distance family and friends. However, social media can also negatively impact a parent’s emotional health through sleep deprivation and negative comparisons with other parents.

Emotional tools can help if you feel overwhelmed and exhausted by technology. Mindfulness – our ability to stay in the present moment without judging – supports parents’ emotional regulation. Turn off your phone and take a deep breath 30 minutes before she goes to bed. If you’re feeling sick after scrolling through pictures of your “perfect” family online, remember that social media isn’t real and you’re trying your best. Digital wellbeing is not easy. You are not alone.

*In collaboration with Blanchard Valley Health System and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the content of this article was provided courtesy of Nationwide’s 700 Children’s® blog by pediatric experts.


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