Between responding to e-mails during kids' activities, texting at meals, and constant phone time while driving, parents use technology almost as much as teens. This dynamic creates feelings of jealousy and distress in children since they now have to compete for both their parents' time and focus.
The family dinner is a perfect example of technology affecting quality time. Traditionally a haven from the outside world and a chance to reconnect, today's dinner is often a frenzied event where members tend to be distracted during the meal by the computer, cell phone or TV. Or they can't wait to finish to get back to these devices. Often, parents are just as guilty as their kids.
Here's an alarming fact: A group of children, aged 4-6, were asked whether they'd want to watch TV or hang out with their dad. Dear old dad lost out! According to an A.C. Nielsen report, 54 percent of kids preferred to spend time with the TV. It's a sad commentary when Bakugan or Barney, however educational, wins out over quality time with a parent, especially for young children who think their parents are still "cool."
So what's the answer? Schedule one-on-one time with children and take family dinner hour seriously. One mother insists that all family members put their electronic devices in a basket when they come through the door and retrieve them only after dinner is over.