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Nowadays more and more authors raise the issue of how much time and energy parents spend with their children. Can our work influence our role as parents?  How do we use our free time? Is the communication with our children enough for them and their development? Does the smartphone steal our attention from our family?

We live in a world where people are in constant competition with each other. We try to build successful careers and at the same time be good parents, husbands and wives. Companies give more and more possibilities to their employees who are willing to achieve better results and increase profit. We all have laptops and smartphones to work “easier” anytime from everywhere. We are given more flexibility than ever but we are less flexible than ever before. Can we stay at home with our sick child without checking our e-mails or “finishing our tasks for the week?” Are we actually free after work to be with our families?

Meanwhile, people spend more and more time checking their Facebook account, reading digital magazines and newspapers or playing games after work. A study by the University of Derby warned that smartphones can be psychologically addictive and encourage narcissistic tendencies. This could affect children’s development in the long term as described by Labour’s Tristram Hunt who is blaming parents’ usage of smartphones for the inability of their children to speak properly when starting school.

The early stages of childhood are crucial for children’s emotional and social development. During these years parents build a base for their children to grow up as responsible and confident adults who are capable of dealing with their life on their own. The time spent with them while having dinner together, discussing their day at school or just playing a game is not just for the current development of the kid but also his future development.

Another study by Dr. Jenny Radesky shows how the ubiquity of smartphones, and their distracting allure, might affect the quality of time that parents and their children spend together. The research was carried out in a fast food restaurant in order to observe how parents are spending their time while eating together. The research showed how absorbed some of the parents were by their phones. One child reached over in an attempt to lift his mother’s face while she looked down at her tablet. Another mother kicked her child under the table in response to the child’s various attempts to get her attention while she looked at her phone. “What stood out was that in a subset of caregivers using devices throughout the majority of the meal, was how negative their interactions could become with the kids,” she says.

What Dr. Jenny Radesky recommends is not to use phones for browsing Facebook or responding to e-mails “at the dinner table — a time that we consider is valuable for fostering cohesion”. Not giving your full attention may cause them to think they are less important to you than your device. According to  Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the Seattle Mama Doc blog “this data is a wake-up call for us parents in that we really need to think about how these enticing devices not only distract us but potentially change who we are as parents,” says Swanson.

We are concerned about our kids spending too much time on their ipad or in front of the TV. Maybe they are the ones shouting: “I want your time Dad!. According to a global survey by online security company AVG Technologies, many kids notice their parents’ screen addictions and it can profoundly affect their views on the subject.  AVG polled families with kids from ages 8 to 15 years old in eight different countries — a total of 6,117 people.

The survey results showed that 54 percent of the kids think their parents check their devices too often and 32 percent of them feel unimportant when their parents are distracted by their phones. While for the parents, 52 percent agreed that they check their phones too often.

The results of these researches show that there is a serious problem which directly concerns our children. We at NorthQ believe that maintaining strong relations within the family and spending more time and energy on our children is one of the most important things in people’s life which in turn influences to a high degree the overall development of our society.

Is good parenting just a matter of buying organic food, not letting our children play unattended or buying them the most expensive toys and devices? No. They need much more. They need you fully present while showing off their capabilities, telling you what they did at school or telling you about the new girl in their class. You don’t build a connection with your children when you are checking your e-mails while they are sitting watching cartoons.

Show him that he is important to you, show him that the things he does are very interesting and that you enjoy spending time together. It is not that hard to go out and play football, to bake cookies together or have fun playing a board game. All these moments will have a huge impact on his emotional well-being and behavior as well as his academic achievements. Love him, support him and you will be more than happy seeing him developing to his full potential. After all our family and children are what really matters in life.