Cell phone addiction is a relatively new cultural phenomenon. Most of the time we are referring to millennials.
However, that’s not what I’m going to talk about here.
Working with teens, I keep seeing the same things over and over. It might surprise you, but your kids want to spend time with you. They may not answer the dreaded “how was school” question with more than “good” but they do want to spend time with you.
When I say to them, “let’s try and be more specific so we can give mom or dad some ideas of how to spend time with you,” they rarely want something extravagant. Usually they’ll request to watch tv or go out for lunch or to the movies. But here’s the catch… they want it without YOUR cell phone.
While parents are busy trying to get their kids to engage more with real humans in front of them, kids are wishing you’d just “be” more with them.
It’s an easy situation to miss, because you think well we’re just sitting here watching tv together. We’re not talking, so I’m just going to answer emails on the couch or scroll through Facebook. Where’s the harm in that?
That exactly it. They may or may not want a direct conversation, but they want you to be present with them doing the same activity. Watching the same movie, or even the news. They don’t really care, but they miss you too as they’re getting older and more independent.
There is a lot of advice for parents about doing things that are best for their kids, even though the kid doesn’t agree at the time. This isn’t one of them. My clients directly ask for this over and over.
A quick google search back this up with scores of research. Using your cell phone too much can make your kids feel ignored and you probably don’t even know you’re doing it.
They know they want to spend time with you without an outside distraction. Even when you are doing “nothing”.
We all know trying to get teens to talk about what we want when we want, doesn’t work so well. It’s really important to build a space and opportunity for them to start a conversation on their terms. This is one of the best ways to show you are open for them to come to you at any time.