Parents: 28 Reasons to Put your Phone Down

I spent 17 hours and 6 minutes on my phone last week.  9 hours and 5 minutes on social networking.

An average of 2 hours and 25 minutes looking at my phone per day.

7 hours of the 17 on Facebook.  3 and a half on YouTube.  51 minutes texting.  30 minutes using the camera.  16 minutes talking on the phone. 15 minutes on email. 7 minutes on the calculator.

Most of the other time was just spent “checking” apps.

My phone sends me “screen time” alerts and keeps track of my usage.

Looking at the total is embarrassing.  In my defense, I try to use it when the kids go to bed.

But that’s not always true.

I’m showing you all this before I show you what my students had to say.  So you wouldn’t think I’m pointing fingers at other parents.

If anything, I’m pointing the finger at myself.  So much so, that I put a limit on my social networking to 10 minutes a day.

Read on to see why.

I start the new semester in my English class with a poetry unit.

To capture their interest, I show some “spoken word” poetry videos and the students answer questions about the messages of the poems.

This is the third year in a row I’ve done this unit.  This year, the answers seemed different.  Sad.  I don’t know why this year.

The poem called “Look Up” by Gary Turk shows how we spend so much time on social media or on devices in general that we let special moments in our life slip by.  [Sorry for the one potty word, but I think it was for the sake of rhyming.]

Sometimes we pass up opportunities all together.

I play the video, then display the journal prompt:

Make a connection: Do you experience this [people looking down at devices] when you are with your friends and family? How does this affect you?

Here are 28 responses from my 13-year-old students:

  1. It doesn’t feel good when people ignore me from there phone.
  2. My family and I are on our phones all the time and it makes me feel that I missed every moment with them.
  3. It makes me a little mad because you can’t do anything with your friends.
  4. It makes me feel like we are hardly know each other.
  5. My experience with my family is that my parents are always on their phones and they argue a lot and they always argue about stuff on Facebook and I spend time on my phone all the time because I have nothing to do.
  6. I get to watch 30 minutes of Netflix a day.  When they [my parents] get to have their technology themselves all day. It kind of makes me feel worthless.
  7. It makes me feel unwelcome to where we are.
  8. My mom is on her phone most of the time and doesn’t really pay attention to anything else.
  9. Yes it makes me feel sad because they don’t pay attention.
  10. Yes because when I want to talk they ignore me.
  11. Yes I feel like I’m left out and nobody listens to me.
  12. Yes I feel this with my mom it makes me feel like I’m worthless.
  13. Yes mad because they never talk to me.
  14. Yes because it makes me feel left out.
  15. Yes, I feel kinda sad while my dad and lots of my friends play on their phones.
  16. Yes my grandma’s always on her phone and my grandpa’s always on his iPad.
  17. Yes my parents are always on their phones around which makes me quite sad.
  18. Kinda because sometimes my grandma just plays on her phone like going on facebook and not paying attention to me.
  19. Sometimes I wish I could speak to my sister more but we are both on our phones. It makes me feel a bit sad.
  20. Yes I experience this with family members who don’t look up and pay attention and it makes me feel like they just don’t care about what I have to say.
  21. My family and friends can tend to do this sometimes. It makes me feel like we are not as connected when they are on their phones. They don’t want to listen to anyone.
  22. It makes me feel left out and that they don’t want to talk.
  23. I do experience it with my family quite often and honestly it makes me feel terrible and makes me feel like they don’t have enough time to ask how my day was or how everything is going.
  24. Yes my family is definitely on our phones and computers and TV a lot and it makes me feel sad because we never do stuff as a family.
  25. Sometimes. It doesn’t make me feel too great because if I’m talking and they’re on their phone it doesn’t seem like they’re listening to me.
  26. It’s the same with my family.
  27. It makes me sad that family does this too, due to their screen time being more important to them.
  28. My mom is always on her phone and whenever I try to talk to her she never listens, or it takes her like 5 minutes for her to even notice that I was talking to her. It makes me feel upset.

I saw similar responses from all types of students.

Shy and outgoing.  Unstable family and well-established family.  Well-off and well-fare.

Just to show there’s not one factor that influenced their answer.

There were a lot of kids who said it wasn’t a big deal at home because they played outside as a family.

Some kids said it didn’t bother them because they enjoyed being on their phone too.

Whether we are guilty of staring at a screen or not, I think we all [being a family member or friend] could do better at just being present with the people around us.

I want to start planning activities (I’m talking about like 30 minutes because life still requires me to cook, clean, and get my kids ready for bed) to make sure we don’t get stuck in the routine of staring at a screen all evening.

  • Park Monday- play at a different park in our town, there’s at least half a dozen in our small town.
  • Trampoline Tuesday- play on our trampoline.
  • Walk Wednesday- walk out to our pond.
  • Trampoline Thursday- play on the trampoline again or ride bikes in the garage.
  • Fun Friday- some kind of fun family outing or just go get a slushy or treat, then go home and play a game.
  • Messy Saturday- get messy, were I let them paint, play in the sand, or bake with me. Invite family or friends over.
  • Soda Sunday- a day already known as “soda” Sunday, but also family movie night with popcorn or candy.

Spending quality time with family may look different as the kids get older.

I’m going to post this, put my phone down, and go play with my kids.



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