Is This Generation of Parents Less Connected Than Ever?

Do you use your smartphone while you're watching the kids? If you do, you're in the majority, but you may want to rethink your attachment to your device. A recent study found that over 70 percent of parents, nannies, and adult babysitters use their cell phones while watching their kids play on the playground. It also found that Candy Crush is a really big distraction after all. While the time spent on phones was generally brief, people were very engrossed. When researchers observed a child trying to interupt an adult using a phone, they saw that the child was unable to get the adult's attention 56 percent of the time. Meanwhile, if an adult was merely chatting away with a friend or helping with a sibling (read: not absorbed in the digital space), he responded to the child's request 89 percent of the time.

It can be hard to let go of technology and live in the moment. After a busy day in the office, it's difficult for me to snap into "home" mode. When my husband picks me up from the train station, he's usually on a work call and I'm hacking away at emails I missed during the day. Even though it's my own doing, it drives me crazy! Is this what it means to live in the digital age?

It turns out some parents are fighting against this phone-dependent trend. The Boston Globe ran a piece earlier this month on the benefits of slow parenting. The concept of slow parenting is this: Let's stop cramming so much stuff into each day and instead focus on the benefits of "unhurried time." Let's turn off our phones and take some time to enjoy each other as a family. It's a shift away from the mentality that "more is more."

The paper interviewed Megan Naujoks, a mother of three, who is making a conscious effort to live a slower lifestyle. Her family now has technology-free days, which have proved helpful for everyone involved. "I find that if I'm able to stop focusing on what other people are doing [on social media], I'm able to center myself and slow down," says Naujoks.

The playground study researchers found that boredom was the biggest reason why adults were reaching for their phones. I can understand not wanting to see your child go across the monkey bars for the millionth time, but I think there is value in striking up a conversation with your neighbor or even reading a magazine, and that way you are still more connected to your child that you would be sorting through old emails. Now it's time for me to take my own advice and put it into practice!

Hannah Werthan is the associate social media editor for Parents.com, which could explain why her phone is attached to her 24/7. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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