iPhone Orphans

From Beth Teitell:

What are you doing about this ongoing nagging problem?

Kids have always fought household rivals for their parents’ attention, of course. But competing against a phone attached to a kitchen wall or a newspaper is nothing compared with going head-to-head with Facebook or Angry Birds. No one has calculated the number of iPhone (or tablet or laptop) orphans. But children who dream of talking to or playing with their parents without mom or dad stealing a glance at a screen may find it increasingly difficult.

Almost half of Americans – 46 percent – now own smart phones, up from 35 percent last May, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. With the growing mobile connectivity has come increasing expectations from employers – and also from friends and family – that e-mails, texts, and tweets will be responded to immediately.

Toss in the siren call of ESPN’s ScoreCenter and it’s no wonder the kids are starting to push back, said Michael Rich, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health.

He sees patients, particularly adolescents, who throw their parents own digital addiction right back at them. “Why should I disconnect when you don’t?’’ they ask.

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  • Ray


    We turn off all electronics in my house at 7:15 except on Saturday nights during college football season (BOOMER SOONER). As a pastor in the digital age I am in front of a computer, on my iphone, or dealing with some sort of technology often. My wife and I feel that for the health of our relationship, and for us to be totally present, we practice an evening “fast” of technology. It was hard at first, but I do not even notice it now.

  • Ray

    By electronics I mean phone, tv, internet etc.

  • Nate

    Here is a great personal story from a friend of mine about this very issue. http://keithdanielmiller.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/youve-got-a-little-something-in-your-eye/

  • I think this is getting over blown by many people. When you look at the time spent with kids it is way up by fathers and not much down for mothers, in spite of the fact that women are now much more likely to be in the work force.

    Do parents spend a lot of time on the phone at the park? Yes. But I think that is more because we have a cultural assumption that kids can’t play at the park by themselves than anything else. When I was a kids my parents did not take me to the park. And I did not expect them to be the one that primarily played with me when we did go to the park. Yes my parents played with me. But in general kids want to play with other kids. They want their parents to pay attention to them playing. But parents should not be continually demeaned because they are at the park with their kids while on the phone. That phone probably is at least part of the reason why they are able to be at the park.

  • Barb

    my post about a Dad texting while standing in the pool should applies here more.