62% of kids think parents are too distracted to listen to them

We’ve all been there: “Hang on, sweetie — I just need a couple minutes to finish this email.”

But maybe what your child was going to tell you was that, according to a new survey, a majority of kids say that their moms and dads are too distracted when they’re trying to talk to them.
Pre-teen kids say parents are too distracted

Mom texting on phoneThe Highlights magazine’s 2014 State of the Kid survey is an annual survey gives children ages 6 to 12 a national platform to share their thoughts and feelings about major issues.

For the magazine’s sixth survey, 1,521 children were polled (including both their own readers and non-readers) to gain their insights on parental distractions, among other topics.

What kids are noticing

“Parents are more plugged in to technology than ever before, but they may not realize the impact it has on their kids when they are constantly texting or checking email and social media,” says Highlights’ parenting expert Dr Michele Borba.

“One strategy for minimizing the distractions is to establish ‘sacred unplugged times’ during family meals and after school that are reserved for face-to-face communication. Placing limits on your own screen time sends a signal to your kids about your priorities, and it serves as a good example for them to model.”

Phones a major source of distraction

When asked what distracts their parents, cell phones (28 percent) were the top response, followed by siblings (25 percent), work (16 percent), and TV (13 percent).  In total, technology — phones, TV and laptops – accounted for 51 percent of the responses.

Age 1 to 3: What to expect

Kids believe parents view their cell phones as essential. When asked what would happen if their parents lost their phone, answers ranged from “be mad” to “go crazy” to “get a replacement very fast.” Several respondents said losing a cell phone would be a good thing because it would mean Mom and Dad would have more time for family.

“Our intent is not to make parents feel guilty or to suggest that parents stop using technology,” says Christine Cully, editor in chief of Highlights magazine. “Rather, our hope is that these results encourage parents to find those few precious minutes each day to unplug and engage in meaningful conversation with their children.”

When it comes to finding focused time to talk to parents, kids say the best time is during a meal (33 percent), closely followed by bedtime (29 percent) and in the car (18 percent). They know their parents are really listening when parents look at them (56 percent), respond (28 percent) and stop doing everything else (11 percent).

“When it comes to building bonds with our children, there are no shortcuts. It is only achieved when parents set aside time for quality, face-to-face communication with kids,” says Dr Borba.

“The simple act of having a family meal together several times a week — with no TVs and phones — can have a big effect on kids’ social and emotional development, as well as academic performance.”

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Parental distraction (infographic)

infographic - parental distraction

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