Cell Phones: Tool or Hobby?


By now, you are probably well aware that the recommendations for screen time. If you need the reminder, children under 18 months should be limited to video chat and children under 5 should be limited to one hour of media. This is all according to the American Academy of Pediatrics

I bring all this up because I had a revelation. Well, not so much a revelation as new, totally obvious information. Recently, I attended the Northern Arizona Early Childhood Symposium, a day-long conference for those who work in early childhood education. One of the sessions emphasized how children, especially infants and toddlers, are impacted by our screen time.

Not their screen time.

Our screen time.

I’ll share with you a picture that my husband took that I’m super embarrassed about and hate. I’m sharing it because I’m fairly confident that all of you have been there.

Guaranteed, whatever I’m doing on my phone, is not important. I’m also sure that after a second, I put my phone down and attended to my son.

The problem with screen time is not just that we are ignoring our kids, it’s that we aren’t interacting with them. Very young children learn and become interested in things because of the cues their caregivers have when they react to them. This tells children that something is worth being excited about and makes them want to repeat the action. 

Think about when your kids start to babble, talk and sing or when they want to read books, cook or do projects with you. It’s because you’re excited about them doing those things and they then want to do them. Your excitement shows them that they are doing something good and they continue to develop those areas.

When we’re on our devices we miss those opportunities with our kids. A phone should be a tool, not a hobby. If you’re spending most of your free time staring at your screens, that’s what they become.

What we spend the most time with becomes the most important thing. Let’s make that our kids.