Seven years old Emil Rustige shows disappointment when his parents pay attention to their phones instead of him. Like Rustigel there are many kids who are dissatisfied with their parents because of their craziness towards mobile. Rustige wants to do something to overcome this problem; he decided to take the question to the streets.
With the support of his parents, Rutile hosted a demonstration on September 8th in his hometown of Hamburg, German. Around 150 folks joined him to encourage parents to put down their phones.
The demonstration was organized under the slogan that reads “Play with ME, not with your cell phones!”
As parents scold over how to pry seemingly addictive digital stuff away from their kid, children are beginning a bit of a counterrevolution- pressurizing their parents to drop their tech obsession. According to one recent survey in the US about teens’ social media habits, for example, 33% of nearly 1,000 respondents between the age of 13 and 17 stated they wished their parent would get off their device.
“They are annoyed by their pals and parents being extremely active on social media,” says Ron Dahl, director of the Center on the Developing Adolescent at the University of California, Berkeley. “They see and feel like they are being ignored, and they probably don’t discern that they do that, too.”
Indeed, the youth revolution may be missing a bit of self-awareness. The same got a result that 16% of teens report using social media “almost frequently,” and another 22% say they use it several times an hour. Still, the fact that both young children and teenagers are complaining about unfocused adults sheds light on an often-ignored problem. Guardians are just as subject to the lure of social media and smartphones as their children—and when they give in, their kids tend to overlook them.
What science says about technology and parenting
Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Medical
School researches the effect of technology on relationships between parents and children. As per the paper she published in Pediatric Research with Brandon T. McDaniel of Illinois State University, the more parents reported instances of “technoscience”—technological devices hindering with social interactions—the more behavioral issue their kids had. The causation was not clear: either parent turn to tech as a form of escapism from children’s issues, or parents actively involved in tech have kids who are more likely to misbehave.
In the two-year study, which consists of 183 parents with a child under five years old, parents with high technology use were predictive of small but vital behavior problems in kids, with kids growing being more hyperactive, easily frustrated, irritated, and having more temper tantrums. The research figured out that parents may become less responsive to their children because digital distractions give parents less exposure to understanding their children’s emotions. “Parents who habitually use mobile devices during parent-child activities showed lower understanding of their child’s mental states and intentions,” it concluded.
On the other hand, bad behavior from kids resulted in adults turning to technology, potentially for stress relief, suggesting the potential for a nasty spiral: kids behave poorly because they are detached of proper attention, driving their parents to digital distraction, thus resulting in more bad behavior. The research notes: “Clinically, our results propose that mobile devices and other digital technology are potentially serving stress-relieving purposes for parents, but at the same time they are destroying the relationship between parents and children. An improper relationship between parents and children might harm child health and development
The reason parents may be more likely to lose themselves in social media because it’s all so new and exciting to them. Meanwhile, young people are already over Facebook. The Guardian reported one survey of 9,000 slightly older internet users (18-24) from the research firm Ampere Analysis found that attitudes towards social media had changed massively in two years.
In 2016, 66% of young people supported the statement “social media is important to me,” compared to only 57% in 2018. Meanwhile, social-media use among adults is escalating: Among the 45-plus age bracket, the share who states they value social media has increased from 23% to 28% in the past year, according to the Ampere survey. There may be an upside to all this parental interruption. Sherry Turkle, a professor in the Science, Technology, and Society program at MIT and the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, told Quartz that she is more optimistic for the next generation because of the undesirable example adults are fixing for young people.
“Kid felt very bad when their parents do not have time for them and turned instead to their phones,” she said.
“That sense of cost and more than any notion of ‘discipline,’ is what I believe is going to get us to another place.”