Parents addicted to their smartphones may be raising less intelligent children. That statistic comes from a new study that shows that an infant’s concentration suffers when a parent’s eyes wander. Parents spending time on their phones during playtime may be limiting their kid’s attention spans at a pivotal point in the development of their child’s brain. The same caution would apply to nannies, babysitters and caregivers. Besides, why would you want to miss interacting with your child because you’re on the phone?
That finding coincides with another study by Common Sense Media that suggests that nearly half of teens feel they’re too addicted to their smartphones. The data also suggests that kids may be learning that behavior from their parents. With seventy-two percent of young people and forty-eight percent of adults in their lives admitting to an intense need to answer texts and messages as soon as they arrive.
The problem is not at all unique to the United States. In Germany, pedestrians are so distracted by their phones that they’re, literally, walking out in front of moving cars. City engineers in one German city have started embedding traffic signals in the sidewalks. That way distracted pedestrians can see traffic signals without looking up. Elle magazine points out that smartphone use may be killing your sex life. And there’s evidence to suggest that phone-checking is contagious with one person kicking off a round of phone checks.
Kicking The Habit
Like with any change in life, change starts with recognition of the problem. If you’re checking your phone when you’re playing with your kid, you have a problem. One solution is learning to ignore the message chimes or turn them off. You should be available for phone calls in case of an emergency but every text, Instagram update and Facebook post doesn’t need to interrupt your time with a loved one. Start by just turning off the chimes.
No Phone Zones
You can also designate areas of your home as No Phone Zones and have No Phone Times. The bedroom is prime territory for a phone use exclusion. That will be good for your sex life and good for your health as you gradually train yourself to sleep through the dings and bings of message notifications.
Grayscale Your Screen
James Hamblin at the Atlantic suggests turning off the color and grayscaling your screen. The logic being that making the device less attractive visually will make it less appealing.
The main point is just perspective. Keeping your relationships in perspective and putting real people in meatspace ahead of a Facebook update and remembering that your kids are more important than Twitter. It also means being aware that no one’s life is worth that text message or email. States are talking about getting seriously tough on drivers texting and driving. Some jurisdictions are investing in devices that police use to exams phones after an accident to determine if the driver was texting. States are promising stepped up enforcement, including jail time for texting drivers.
If you can’t learn to ignore the dings and chimes of your phone when you’re behind the wheel, I hope you like orange because you’re going to be wearing that color for a long time.