Guiding our kids into their fast-changing futures.

Distracted Parenting: Time to Put Down the Tech?

Texting while driving…talking on the phone at dinner…playing video games at all hours of the day and night. Sound familiar? And our kids do all that stuff too. But what signals do adults send when they engage in those behaviors? This piece by Sierra Filucci in Common Sense Media really hit home: Texting While Parenting: Can it Wait? Apparently for some, it can’t.

Like for instance Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, who on a panel at the SXSW conference last week made this telling comment which stunned the crowd: “Kids are awesome, you guys should all have kids…I don’t see mine enough actually. What I find is I’m able to be with them and still be on e-mail. I can be with them and still be working at the same time.”

Ok, then.

How are you being a role model, good or bad, with your tech use? Discuss below.


  1. My son is 3 years old and has been playing around with an iPad since he was 3 months. He was proficient at all iOS gadgets by 12 months and now can show his Grandparents how to use it. Like anything, keeping it in moderation is key and focusing their play time on productive apps truly has been awesome. By the time he was two he was counting and we are already starting to write using a few available apps. His vocabulary and grammar skills are well above average and it’s amazing what he can do on an iPad nowadays. Like anything web related he can, and has, found videos on YouTube I would rather he not watch, but that’s where the parenting comes in. We monitor and keep an ear out when he’s surfing and make sure he gets plenty of other “real-world” stimulus beyond the digital. I’m setting him up for success where technology truly will be integrated into almost everything he does. Keep it in moderation, both from his use and my use and we have a happy, super smart, little kid that is going to be ready to tackle this new world.

  2. Matt York-Smith says:

    I’m interested (not as a parent, because I’m not one!), but as an educator, about the same issue.

    How are we role-modelling use of technology when email is now often a distraction to us in lessons? My students now come into class and straight away start to stare at their screens (my school has a requirement for students above 12 years old to have a laptop computer now). Problem is, when they first walk in, often that’s what I’m doing as well- trying to set up resources, websites, videos etc for the lesson (especially with quick change overs and the need to have quite a few windows open).

    Children learn through modelling. What are we modelling? I think often it can be behaviours of ‘digital distractedness’ where the technology becomes the most important focus. It can be things like waking up and going straight to the laptop to check Facebook. It sends a powerful signal; this is the most important thing to do. Often it isn’t and often what we’re doing is not productive. If I get an email during lessons where there is some ‘downtime’ then often I quickly sit at my desk and read it, so they don’t build up to the level where I’m going to have spend a long period of time responding. I wonder what message this sends to the students? I think it may be that the email is more important than they are. I wonder whether they have any idea what I am responding to? Perhaps they think I’m on Facebook…

    Food for thought for me anyway. I certainly think schools and parents need to think carefully about the rules we put in place for use of technology. I certainly see the downsides of being distracted by technology in this always-on world we are creating.

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