It seems as if everywhere I look, people go about their lives with their heads tilted downward, and eyes locked on their phones. People are virtually oblivious to the world around them because their phones monopolize their attention.

This phenomenon is particularly striking when I see parents with their kids. Whether it's sitting at a restaurant, taking them for a walk, or sitting on the sidelines of a game, parents are focusing their attention on that small screen in lieu of their kid's activities.

While it seems inconceivable that a rational adult would love their phone more than their kid, there are times it makes me wonder. Ask yourself the following questions to see if you're too phone-obsessed:

  • Have you ever compromised the safety of your kids by using your phone while driving your car?
  • Have you ever ignored the entreaties of your child, no matter how urgent, because you're sending an important text?
  • Does quality family time take a hit because of that digital device in your hand?
  • Are family meals — the importance of which should not be discounted — constantly interrupted because we need to check messages or texts?
  • Can you tolerate time with your family (or anyone for that matter) without your smartphone within reach?

The point is not to accuse anyone of not loving their family enough, but rather to highlight our obsession with our phones. While many of us might argue that our time on the phone is not a big deal because our children probably don't even notice, is that really the case?

As it turns out, our children do actually notice. From what experts can gather, they aren't very happy about it. In a recent informal study conducted by Consumer Watch, children between the ages 8-15 were asked to comment on their parent's use of their smartphones. What the study revealed was that 54% of the children felt that their parents checked their phones too often and 32% felt "unimportant" when this happened. Interestingly enough, 52% of the parents agreed that they checked their phones too often, and 25% wanted their own kids to use their phones less. How's that for parental hypocrisy?

The reality is that momentarily checking your phone can be construed as mostly innocuous, but even brief interruptions disrupt the flow of conversation or social interaction. Plus, interruptions in our attention, no matter how small, most certainly add up. The end result is that we send the message to our family that we would rather be on our phones than giving them our undivided attention, which, for the record, they deserve. While this hardly constitutes loving your phone more than your kids, the time we spend with our kids is a valuable opportunity to express our love and remind our family how important they are to us.

Like most things in life, the key to a healthy phone habits is moderation, and this is well within our grasp. Make the effort to put your phone away for during important times with your family, especially during the holidays. 

Here are some tips on how to get it done.

1. Be Organized

Schedule important communications before or after family time so that you can put your phone away and give your family the attention they deserve.

2. Always Make Safety a Priority

Driving while texting is beyond stupid. Children's safety is a priority for every parent, and using your phone in the car is simply endangering your kids' lives.

3. Turn Your Phone Off and Leave it Somewhere Else

When you're with your family or at the table, turn your phone off and leave it in another room, away from earshot. Your phone's allure is irresistible if it is within reach.

4. Maintain Eye Contact

Get in the habit of keeping eye contact when interacting, and teach this to your kids. This is simply good etiquette and will help focus your attention away from your phone while teaching good manners.

5. Remind Yourself That 99% of All Messages Are Not Important

Most messages or texts are not so important that it can't wait for 30 minutes for you to respond. Parents should try to always keep this in mind.

Join @ParentingSquad on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoogle+, and Pinterest. Have a funny, touching or interesting story to share about kids and parenting? Email us at Editor (at)