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TEAM COVERAGE-Distracted Parents: Are We Ignoring Our Kids? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

TEAM COVERAGE-Distracted Parents: Are We Ignoring Our Kids?

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KTBS 3 News and The Times newspaper have teamed up for In-Depth coverage of a troubling issue facing society today -- Distracted Parenting. Our partnership continues later this week with a look at Parenting in an Age of Technology with The Times article Wednesday morning and the follow-up on Thursday on KTBS 3 News at 10pm.

(Shreveport, LA)-Work often demands it. Your friends and family expect it. You may not realize it but being attached to your cell phone can be bad for your kids.

A new study from Boston Medical Center found the strong majority of us ignore our children.

Researchers went to 15 restaurants and observed parents eating with their kids.

Forty out of 55 families were absorbed by their phones.

About a third of them hardly put them down the whole meal.

"I think it just goes to show how easy technology can encroach on our lives if we don't make a conscience effort to stop it," said Dr. Michelle Yetman, Clinical Psychologist, LSU Health Shreveport.

Dr. Yetman says our cell phones make us feel more connected but in some ways they actually make us less connected.

"The concern is that technology for all its wonderful benefits is actually isolating us more," she said. "People don't see that side of us because they think we're all plugged in and connected in, but we're also more isolated because you don't connect through a screen, we connect one on one through human interaction."

In the study, while parents were on the phone some children sat quietly and ate while others acted out.

"There's a basic rule in psychology that any attention is better than no attention," said Dr. Yetman. "So children will get attention."

So, what do you do about it?

"For parents, what we really recommend is that you really establish kind of protected time kind of sacred time with your children," she said. "There are certain things you have to establish in stone."

That's exactly what Jennifer Thurman started doing despite her busy life.

She juggles three kids, her business, a house, and a husband.

Her job is very demanding and it means she's on the phone and computer a lot.

"I realized I was missing moments," said Thurman. "And your life is just a lot of moments strung together."

So, she decided to make some changes.

"No one brings a phone to the table. So we sit down, eat dinner most nights together and there's no phone, no iPods, nothing at the table," she said.

Thurman says even the smallest changes in when you use your phone can make a big difference.

"Something that's really made a difference for me is when I pull up to the school to pick up my girls, my phone is away. I think it's so important that when I greet them for the day, they see me 100% focused on them."

Thurman says she can't always follow her own rules but that's OK.

"I think something that's really important is just to set some limits and just also be forgiving of yourself and know that you're not going to be perfect," said Thurman.

Experts say the point of the study isn't to suggest technology is bad or we should completely eliminate it.

However, they do say be more aware of how much time you spend on devices and how much quality time you spend with your kids.

It's all about balance.

"The danger is technology has the potential to steal very valuable parenting time," said Dr. Yetman.

Click here to read more on the Boston study.

Our partnership with The Times newspaper continues later this week with more important In Depth coverage of distracted parenting.   Look for The Times article Wednesday morning and the follow-up on Thursday at 10pm on KTBS 3 News. 

 

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