According to a November 2018 study by Australia’s Queensland State Government, parents that spend an inordinate amount of time on their devices in the presence of their children are negatively affecting their family relationships and triggering long terms behavioral issues for their kids.
The report by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) studied 7000 minors aged 4 to 18 and puts the spotlight on device distracted parents. It reveals that children want their parents to “pay attention, have respectful conversations with them, listen to them and take a genuine interest in their lives.”
According to the report, children crave their parents’ attention to cope with school stress and bullying but don’t have their undivided attention. QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon says that “they’re asking adults to put their phones down and to interact with them more.”
Children feel “demotivated and worried” when parents and teachers fail to celebrate small achievements, such as mastering tricky problems in their school homework. “Young people say parents and carers are distracted by their phones or ‘too busy’ with work and other responsibilities to be supportive with issues such as bullying.”
QFCC’s Cheryl Vardon goes on to say, “There is a lot of criticism these days of our young people and their addiction to screens. But what they tell us is they’re being driven to everything digital — games for recreation, screens for education, websites for resources, but what they actually want is real conversations and connections.”
Sadly, the report also revealed that some children resort to speaking with their pets when their parents are too busy. A youth group participant said, “If I’m agro I tell my dog and she makes me laugh and I’ll give her a treat. Pets sometimes know when you are upset.”
While the Queensland State Government study has shamed device-addicted parents, the concern of parental device distraction isn’t new. As evidenced by Texas mom Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz’s January 2017 post on Facebook, this sign was posted on the door of her daughter's daycare. Touching a major nerve among the parenting community on social media, the post was shared over a million times with in excess of 7000 comments.