Children's Reaction to Parents' Texting
Recently, I had the pleasure of picking the brains of 25 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I had an entire lesson planned, but it took us twenty minutes just to discuss my first slide. The question I posed to them was prompted by a conversation I'd had with a third grader that week. She was frustrated by constant text interruptions when she was trying to talk to her mother. I asked the class, "How does it feel when you are talking to your parents and they get a text or phone call that they answer?"
I used a program that allowed the children to respond to the question anonymously, so they were able to be completely honest. The following were the exact answers they gave:
"I feel like i am ignored and i feel like they don't think i am there."
"I feel annoyed."
"I feel mad and ignored."
"I feel left out and at the same time i get mad."
"I feel very ignored."
"I feel like they do not care about me."
I feel that she doesn't want to talk to me."
"I feel angry and sad."
"I feel sad and ignored."
"I feel ignored and that they don't care about me even though I know they love me but sometimes it could be a important text so i get it sometimes"
"I feel like they don't want to talk to me and I'm ignored."
"I feel a bit said, but in my opinion it just depends. If he/she is texting about work that's different."
"I feel that i am not there. then i think and i say to myself that they're busy."
"My mom tries to act like she is listening, but she is looking at her text and saying, "Aha" which tells me she really isn't listening to me."
"I wish I was more important than my mom's phone."
"I get frustrated and just say, forget it."
All the children stated they knew their parents loved them, but a few wanted to make responding to texts okay. The following comments were made that justified their parent's lack of focus on them:
"I feel ignored and that they don't care about me even though I know they love me but sometimes it could be an important text so i get it sometimes."
"I feel ok because i can just wait for them to be finished so then i can talk."
"I feel like I am being ignored but I don't get annoyed that much because I know it wont take long for them to realize I am talking to them and if they don't hear what I am saying I repeat it more clearly."
Texting and easy phone access is creating situations I never dealt with as a mother. The bings and rings of our phones create a Pavlovian response in our brains, that almost make it impossible to keep our focus on those right in front of us. It's not our faults, it's chemical! I'm curious how parents are dealing with this? Please share what you have done to adapt to the chemical pull of your phones bings and rings, so they don't create these feelings in our children? Please share your ideas below in the comment section of my blog.