Special Report: Technology Use at Home

-tech-and-parents

KIMT News 3 – This might come as a surprise to you, but adults in 2014 spent about 11 hours each day using some sort of technology. That’s according to the Nielsen’s Total Audience Report.

From smartphones to computers to even iPad technology is something we use each day, but it’s not just kids who are turning to them a little too much — it’s adults as well.

Ignoring your kids when you have a mobile device in your hands impacts them more than you might actually realize.

“There was a time when my son, John Paul, drew a picture of his family,” said Mariah Lynne from Hartland. “He drew his dad in a tractor, he drew himself and his sister playing and he drew me with a computer.”

It seems like Mariah’s focus wasn’t on her family.

“That’s how they always saw me. I’ve been a business woman for over a decade now and for a long portion of that time, that’s how my kids saw me,” said Lynne. “They saw me on the computer or on the phone.”

Lynne works from home and she’s realizing that family comes before work and if she doesn’t want her kids to be on their iPads all the time, she couldn’t be either.

“If you would have asked me two or three years ago, I would have been leading a very poor example because I was always online and always accessible,” said Lynne. “As your kids grow and you grow, you want more for them and you know you have to be more.”

According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, Americans are on some type of electronic device for more than 11 hours a day.

Watching TV is the most popular with people viewing it for about four hours and 50 minutes, but it shows adults are on their smartphones around 70 minutes a day.

However, putting your mobile device down is easier said than done and that’s why Lynne leads by example.

“What I’ve found after years and years of being accessible to my clients is when I use out of office, I make sure people know that when I’m on a family vacation or weekend or if it’s at night and I’m dedicating that time to my family, I’ll put on my out of office with what I’m actually doing,” said Lynne.

This is helping her not think about touching her phone.

“It allows me to not have to look at the devices as much and I think that’s part of a problem solver, but that’s still hard,” said Lynne. “It’s hard to put that down and separate work and life and they’re not the same thing. We try to make sure during the day we carve out as much time if not more for them than our clients.”

Cody Williams with Turning Leaf Counseling in Mason City agrees with Lynne — that kids are more important than what is on their cell phones.

“It’s really important that parents do interact and set that goal for them,” said Williams. “If you don’t want your kids looking at their phones at the dinner table, you shouldn’t be doing it as well because you have to make that commitment with them.”

He’s also finding that texting and apps like Twitter and even Facebook are making kids and adults become less social and interacting with one another in person is declining.

“We see more and more kids and even adults that are interacting socially less,” said Williams. “They’re depending on electronic devices like phones to get instant gratification, which causes a lot of issues like social issues and social decline within the community.”

Scheduling a set time each day when you or your family won’t be on any type of technology might sound impractical, but it can be beneficial.

“Make a time during the day so its cellphone-free times to help make sure that you’re interacting with each other,” said Williams.

“If you’re really finding it hard to put down your cellphone, there is now an app for that and it’s called “Moment.” The makers of this app wanted to make sure people are more aware of how much time they spend on their phones each day. Every time you get a call or are using your phone for apps or surfing the web, the phone keeps count and at the end of each day, you’re able to see how much you used it.”

Angie Eggum of ClarksGrove, MN and her husband are trying something a little different. Rather than limit their technology time they teach their two teenagers how to use a home properly.

“It’s more important to educate them on the etiquette portion rather than trying to limit their usage,” said Eggum.

A big thing for Angie is she wants to show her kids that moments in life are more important than what is on their phone.

“I think it’s more important to talk to them about when you’re having a conversation to set it aside and if it does ring or if you get a text, you can look at it, but it’s more important to focus on who you’re talking to,” said Eggum.

Although Angie doesn’t limit their cell phone usage, she and her kids do things that involve no use of technology at all like reading a book or baking their favorite treat.

However, she does have some rules they do follow.

“We also make sure we don’t bring them to the dinner table and we don’t have our phones by our bed when we go to sleep at night,” said Eggum. “We plug them in outside of the room so we’re not distracted by that either.”

“I think it’s a pretty smart because if we didn’t plug it in outside our room, I would probably be on it all night with Snapchat and texting,” said Henry Eggum, Angie’s son. “It’s distracting and in order to go to sleep, I should plug it in outside.”

With teaching Henry and Maggie proper cell phone etiquette, Maggie has even come up with a plan to avoid turning to her phone during times when things are more important — like when she’s at Sunday School.

“Maggie and Henry are both in my class, at the first class Maggie had the idea of taking our phones away from our laps or wherever they are and put them in a pile and we don’t have to think of them during that time,” said Angie Eggum. “I was really proud of her for coming up with that.”

“When you’re in a conversation with someone and if their phone rings, they’ll just stop and not even say that they have to take this,” said Maggie Eggum, Angie’s daughter. “They’ll just go to their phone and you’re sitting there awkwardly. It just gets really annoying when you’re in a conversation and they just stop. So I figured if we just stopped and talk about the conversation at hand, it would be more effective.”

However, if you’re really struggling with putting down your phone, Williams suggests doing something as a family that doesn’t involve any technology like going on a walk or having a family game night.

 

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