High-tech multitaskers are all over the place. Let’s face it, it’s only normal for most of us to be text messaging while watching television, while keeping up with work emails and jumping from website to website. Most of us think we do a pretty good job of juggling it all, but several studies have shown that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.
Additionally, a study out of Stanford University last week found that tech-focused interactions, even through applications like FaceTime, is not a replacement for real human interaction, especially for children. As reported by CNN, “tween girls who spend the most time multitasking between various digital devices, communicating online or watching video are the least likely to develop normal social tendencies. The study found that “real” or “offline” face-to-face time, when children are engaged and able to make real eye contact was critical for normal social and emotional development among young girls.
The study suggests that we need to make it a priority to spend quality, offline time with our kids to help them learn social norms. We can’t leave it up to TV, applications or websites to teach our kids how to interact. Additionally, as parents, we need to set a strong example and be honest with ourselves about the “quality” time we spend with our kids. Are we making eye contact? Are we unplugging long enough to have real conversations with our children without the distraction of our smart phones? Are we showing them that they are more important and more interesting to us than some reality TV show or website that’s sucked us in? It’s time we plug into less so we can accomplish more with our kids.