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6 Weeks to a Smartphone-Friendly Family: Week 5

Do you put your own phone away during these moments? You should, because your kids notice.

We all want to raise children with self-confidence, motivation, healthy social ties, self-awareness and a sense of purpose. But these days, adult influence is in major competition with screens and smartphones.

According to a the Pew Research Center, “aided by the convenience and constant access provided by mobile devices, especially smartphones, 92 percent of teens report going online daily — including 24 percent who say they are online 'almost constantly.'"

Is the 24/7 world of digital immersion stunting some basic skills our children need like empathy, looking a person in the eye, a strong handshake, ability to hold an intelligent conversation or writing in a complete sentence-without acronyms? What can we, as parents, do?

They’re watching you more than you realize

Upholding the values you cherish by modeling them will make a huge difference in your child’s life. It doesn’t have to be complicated or tricky. Put your phone away during dinner. Don’t spend the entire evening on Facebook. Don’t check your work e-mail when you get home — at least not when your teen is still awake and hanging out in the family room.

Even more important: Make connections with people. Spend time with friends and family and let your teens see you make that time. Have dates with your spouse and conversations where the phone is put away or, better yet, turned off. Believe me, your kids will notice.

Make connections with people. Spend time with friends and family ... Believe me, your kids will notice.

Have you ever been to your child’s dance recital, baseball game or sporting event and noticed a sea of parents with their heads down, staring at a smartphone or tablet? Of course you have. We’ve all done it. I’ll never forget when my daughter saw me on my phone while I was in the audience for one of her dance recitals. It really bothered her, and I felt terrible.

The point is, it’s just as easy to for us to get as distracted as our teen. But watching your teen do something he or she loves is the perfect opportunity to model some great behavior. Show you’re paying attention and care about what your teen cares about.

You have a huge impact

Studies show you have a bigger impact on your teen than you think.

Strong parent role models help promote positive behavior and responsibility in teens, according to Illinois State University psychology professor Laura Berk. “Although a teen’s friends have greater influence on day-to-day matters like dress and choice of music, parents have a far bigger impact on a teen’s life choices and morals,” says Berk.

The truth is, your teen is watching you like a hawk whether it’s obvious or not.

For more information on how you can be a guide for your child through the responsibility of a smartphone as well as a detailed “roadmap” for the journey, download our free guide.

Read the rest of the series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and Week 6.

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