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When parents are the ones too distracted by devices

When parents are the ones too distracted by devices | Cultural Trendz |

Having a teenager lost in his or her cellphone — texting friends and communicating with parents in monosyllabic grunts — has become a trope of the Internet age. But teens are not the only ones distracted by their devices.

Many parents have the same problem. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm one of them.

A couple weeks ago, my 12-year-daughter, Ella, staged an intervention. She and my wife basically threatened to take my phone and break it.

"Sometimes at night you'll just stand around and ... you'll have your phone out and you'll just type and you'll just stand there," Ella says.

Ella can be a brutal mimic. And as she describes my distraction, she strikes up my smartphone pose: the phone balanced against my belly — thumbs madly typing away — (as if by holding the phone that way no one will notice that I'm on it).

"Lila's ready to go to bed, everybody's trying to get people to read to them and you're just standing there in the middle of the hallway reading your texts and texting other people," she adds.

Hearing from my oldest that I'm ignoring her little sister stings.

"Has that gotten worse?" I ask.

"It hasn't really changed; it got worse when we moved to California," Ella says.

That was when I started covering technology.

"Do you feel jealous of my cellphone? Do you get mad at it?" I ask.

That earns an eye roll and a laugh.

"No, why would I get jealous of a cellphone?"

"I don't know," I say. "Do you feel like you are competing for attention?"


With that she wins the argument.

And Ella isn't the only kid who feels this way about her parent's relationship with devices.

Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical and consulting psychologist at Harvard, recently wrote . For her book, Steiner-Adair interviewed more than 1,000 kids from the ages of 4 to 18. She talked to hundreds of teachers and parents.

"One of the many things that absolutely knocked my socks off," she says, "was the consistency with which children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents' attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology, much like in therapy you hear kids talk about sibling rivalry."

Steiner-Adair says one of the challenges we all face is that these devices are wired to grab our attention and keep it. She says the most successful apps are popular, even addictive, because they in our brains.

"Yes, when you are plugged into your screen the part of your brain that lights up is the to-do list," Steiner-Adair says. "Everything feels urgent — everything feels a little exciting. We get a little dopamine hit when we accomplish another email — check this, check that. And when a child is waiting by or comes into your room and it's one of those mini-moments and you don't know — that's the hard thing about parenting — you don't know if this is the ordinary question or they're coming with something really important. It's very hard as a grown-up to disengage and give them your attention with the [same] warmth that you give them, the same tone of voice that you greet them if they interrupt you when you're scrambling eggs."

A couple of years ago, my daughter got a laptop for school. And because she was becoming more independent, we got her a phone. We set up rules for when she could use this stuff and when she'd need to put it away. We created a charging station, outside her bedroom, where she had to plug in these devices every night. Basically — except for homework — she has to put it all away when she comes home.

Steiner-Adair says most adults don't set up similar limits in their own lives.

"We've lost the boundaries that protect work and family life," she says. "So it is very hard to manage yourself and be as present to your children in the moments they need you."

Steiner-Adair says that whether you are a parent or not, carving out time to turn off your devices — to disconnect from the wired world and engage with the real people who are all around you — is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and the people your love.

After my daughter's little intervention, I made myself a promise to create my own charging station. To plug my phone in — somewhere far away — when I am done working for the day. I've been trying to leave it there untouched for most of the weekend.

And while I still find myself reaching for it — or checking my pocket — leaving my phone behind is also kind of freeing. Last weekend, instead of checking Twitter and reading tech blogs I built a treehouse.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

The importance of disengagement and setting up boundaries. - "Parents often complain that smartphones keep their kids distracted from conversation. What happens when it's the other way around, when kids can't get their smartphone-glued parents' attention?"

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, April 17, 4:43 PM

Adults face tech challenges. I know school managers who cannot greet someone properly due to their inability to look away from their PDA. Is that example we want for children?

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Preparing for Father's Day!

Preparing for Father's Day! | Cultural Trendz |

 First...I decided to conduct an interview with my 3 1/2 year old son.  I love the simplicity in his answers...

My daddy's name is Chris.  
My dad is 15 years old.
His hair is brown and his eyes are red.
My dad likes to wear t-shirts.
He loves to eat macaroni.
He is smart because he loves me.
My daddy works hard at painting doors.
Daddy always tells me no, no, no.
It makes my Dad happy when he loves you.
If he could go on a trip he would go on an airplane and take his phone.
I really love when my Daddy plays games and takes pictures with me.
If you could give Daddy anything it would be a camera because he wants to take pictures with me.
My favorite thing about Daddy is playing Zingo with him.
Daddy's favorite tv show is basketball.
He likes to go downtown to see the train.

Then, I found this wonderful idea on Pinterest where you do a photo shoot with the kids while they wear Daddy's clothes!  Sounnds easy, right?  Ha---you try that with an 18 month old who just woke up from naps, had shots earlier in the day, with a molar coming in, and a snot-filled cold.  Andrew was NOT happy with me AT all.  This is the only decent picture I got (and it's because I had my iPhone playing choo-choo videos right next to my camera lens!).  My older one was overly excited and pulled out every object of Daddy's closet including pants and a way-too-big belt and was INSISTENT on wearing it!   So as much as I would love to reshoot my sweet darling boys to capture some brighter smiles (and just maybe a picture together), I think my husband will have to be happy with these couple shots that may have captured a little joy in my boys!

So I'm thinking of using a trifold frame and put the interview in the middle and the pictures on each side.  So what do you think, any other cute display ideas?

And you won't believe the cuteness that happened at Courtney's house earlier this week????  Seriously check out these amazing photos...

And do you want to know where she got these props?????  Only one of the cutest photo blogs ever where they are featuring these as a free download this month.  Check it out here: ;

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Awesome photo shot idea with kids for Father's Day!

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Here are the Coolest Custom Lego Minifigs

Here are the Coolest Custom Lego Minifigs | Cultural Trendz |
Custom Lego guys!
Via Deloste
Vilma Bonilla's insight:
The Ron Burgundy guy is my fave! #Lego #cuteness
Deloste's curator insight, October 28, 2013 3:05 AM

You Can Buy on Etsy Right Now

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Father's Day Gifts | Way better than a tie!

Father's Day Gifts | Way better than a tie! | Cultural Trendz |
Geek? Grill-Master? Be sure to check out 27 drool-worthy Father's Day gifts for the guy in your life.
Vilma Bonilla's insight:
Cool ideas for Dad.
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