Have you ever tried to get your spouse’s or child’s attention, only to find yourself competing with a phone?

It’s hard to feel loved when others are staring at their phones.

Sure, you can send a text to loved one and connect that way.  But it’s much more common – if we get real – to experience a disconnection from someone because of screen use.

My book Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life comes out on September 5 to help. It’s a follow up book to Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World which I wrote with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Consider Dr. Chapman’s 5 love languages and how screens can hinder the way love is expressed to your children:

Physical touch – My youngest daughter Lucy starts every day the same way…with a big hug!  Her love language is definitely physical touch.

What happens when you see your child playing a video game or using a device?  You usually head the other direction.  It’s your signal to get stuff done while your child is occupied.  Most of us don’t snuggle up to our children while they conquer a video game or update social media posts.  Screens tend to isolate us physically and that can be harmful especially when your child’s love language is physical touch.

Words of affirmation – With the rise of screen time, many children are hearing more words from their screens than in actual conversations with family.  A child isn’t going to get many meaningful words of affirmation from a television or tablet.  Even if he wins a video game and sees the screen flash, that can’t be equated with hearing someone you care about say “Well done!”

Quality time – It’s very difficult to have quality time with a child when screens are present.  Quality time means your child has your undivided attention, and when a television, phone, or video game is present, they don’t have that.  You know from looking around at families in restaurants that screens pose a huge risk to quality time.

Gifts – The digital age has put gift giving on steroids.  My grandmother might have been given a one dollar toy and she would have said thank you.  Today a child might respond, “Is that all?”  Thousands of commercials and advertisements parade the latest toys and gadgets, creating desires in children that did not exist thirty seconds prior.

You might wonder, “Should I give my child the tablet she is asking for?  After all, gifts are her love language.”  Please don’t feel pressured to give your child an electronic device too soon.  Making your children wait until they are ready to handle a phone or tablet is a far greater gift than giving it too soon just because they asked.

Acts of service – If service is your child’s primary love language, your acts of service will communicate most deeply that you love him or her.  When you fix a bicycle chain, mend a dress, pack a lunch, or help with homework, your child’s love tank fills up.

It’s hard to serve your child if you are constantly digitally connected.  You might help your child with homework on the computer or show them how to charge up the battery on a device, but other than that, the opportunities to share acts of service are very limited on screens.

So…let’s be honest.  How are screens impacting the way you communicate love to your child and the quality of that communication? 

Would your child be really happy if you lost your phone for a day?  

Screens cannot pour love into your child like you can.  That’s why it’s so important to have positive digital habits so you can have time to spend with your children – when they don’t have to compete with a phone.

Arlene Pellicane

Send this to a friend