Kids Feel Unimportant when Parents are Distracted by Technology


Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies, says a recent global study commissioned by AVG found that 54% of children think their parents are spending too much time on their phones.

Parents agreed with their children at the rate of 52% and worried that they were setting a bad example for their young ones. The survey was conducted in June of this year with more than 6,000 8- to 13-year old respondents from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Rappler reports that children involved in the study said they had to compete with technology for their parents’ attention, with 32% adding that they felt unimportant when their parents were distracted on their phones during meal times, watching television, playing outside, and even when conversing. Twenty-eight percent of parents agreed with this observation.

“I do feel like the balance between the degree to which I use my mobile device to stay connected to work and my ability to be more present, available to my family, is quite out of balance,” a respondent said.

Anscombe added that with children using devices at an increasing rate, it is important for parents to set good habits for their children to emulate.

According to New Zealand’s Stuff, these children’s comments summed up the reactions of the participants:

Jake Hilmi, 15, said his mum “spent too much time on Candy Crush”.

Fourteen-year-old Hailey George said she agreed that parents were spending too much time on their devices.

“My dad spends a lot of time texting his friends,” she said.

Lydia Anderson of New Zealand’s MediaWorks TV says 340 Kiwi adults and 304 children were surveyed, and more than 50% of Kiwi children felt their parents checked their devices too often. John Cowen of The Parenting Place says the survey parallels recent research which shows that teenagers have technology habits similar to their parents when it comes to the amount of time they spend on technology.

Teenagers even feel their parents are hypocrites, writes Cowen, when their parents tell them to get off their phones when the parents are themselves watching a movie on their phones. In the global survey findings, Brazilian parents rated highest for device use, where 87% of children reported that they thought their parents used their devices too much. Also, almost 60% of Brazilian parents acknowledged they used their phone while driving.

Anscombe said that parents need to lead by example:

“With our kids picking up mobile devices at an increasingly younger age, it is really important that we set good habits within the home, early on. Children take their cues from us for everything else, so it is only natural that they should do the same with device use. It can be hard to step away from your device at home; but with a quarter of parents telling us that they wished their child used their device less (25 percent), they need to lead by example and consider how their behavior might be making their child feel.”