STOP YOUR DISTRACTED DADDING
Why you do it
"The common perception is that babies are like vegetables," says Roberta Golinkoff, Ph.D., author of Becoming Brilliant. It's easy to think that they won't notice you or care that you're on your phone, she says, and parents of kids of all ages often see their smartphones as a "break" that they deserve Plus, people often lose track of time on their phone, assuming they'll just check it for a minute but then ten pass, she adds. This makes you more absent father than you think.
Why you shouldn't
"Children, even babies, are looking for collaboration and communication," says Golinkoff. "When you use your smartphone around your child, you are putting up a wall. You're taking away the possibility of shared talk and emotion." What's the big deal? One study Golinkoff conducted found that when parents took a phone call while trying to teach their child a word, the child never ended up learning it in the allotted time. In short: Your phone hampers parenting.
How to cut back
"It's as simple as putting the phone away," Golinkoff says. "There's no big magic trick." And there's no middle ground. When you're interacting with your child, place the phone in a designated bowl or drawer. Putting it out of reach isn't good enough. "If you can see the phone, you will likely give in to temptation," she says. You can still take a phone break after, say, 30 minutes of focused play, but make sure child time and phone time are separate.