Jul 19, 2016
3 Ways Email is Stealing your Ability to be a Good Parent
International Parents Day is almost upon us this weekend and now would be a good time to pause and reflect on how we have impacted our children's lives in the past year. There is no doubt that while parenting is a rewarding experience, it comes with its own pitfalls and calls for constant vigilance to stay the course. Therefore, now is also a good time to evaluate and understand how email could be stealing our innate ability to parent our children well.
1. It can be a dangerous distraction
In the 1940s, many children (commonly referred to as 'latchkey kids') were left to their own devices, with one parent probably serving their country at war, while the other was hard at work, trying to earn an income for the household. It was generally feared that without appropriate adult supervision, such children would be highly susceptible to peer pressure, potentially resulting in such behaviors as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, etc. Today, we know better than to leave our children unsupervised. Or do we? Working on email while also watching the kids means your attention is split at best. Constant notifications and the urge to dash off replies as soon as you receive an email, can also entice you into taking your eyes off your kids and on to your email, for extended periods of time. As a result, the quality of parental supervision is lesser than it should be.
2. It takes chunks out of family time
The FewClix Email Time Suck Survey conducted by the Kelton Group in 2015, found that 21% of Americans confessed to email stealing the quality time that they spend with their children. In their formative years, children crave attention from their parents. Providing this attention in a measured, sensible way can be very nourishing to a child's mental and social growth. However, deprived of such nourishment, negative behaviors can result in kids. Here's a set of email rules you can follow to keep this from happening:
- When you set aside 'family time' to enjoy with your children, do not cheat on them by responding to email notifications during this time.
- Don't make them wait for your response or your attention (when it is presumably engaged with your email instead)
- And don't give them the impression that you care more about your email than you do about them!
In other words, don't let email steal from you, those precious moments of their childhood that may never come around, again.
3. It tricks you into setting a terrible example
Children imitate those that they love and admire. And to most kids, that role model would be their parents. If you find your 8-year old refusing to put away his tablet while he has his dinner or your teenager texting in the middle of a conversation with guests, it's a good idea to check if they learned this from you. You probably think that as an adult, different rules apply to you. Why, that email you just checked could have been something critical! Look at it this way – nothing is more critical than positively influencing the way our children develop as individuals. If you agree that it is important your children grow into happy, well-adjusted adults, then it demands a sacrifice on your part – put away your email at meal times. Mute your notifications during social occasions. Don't grab your email device first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Show them what really matters to you and they will follow suit.
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