Considering how far human beings have come in the way of technology, one would think people’s attention spans also would have greatly improved over time. But according to Gregg Murset, founder and CEO of www.busykid.com, a recent study showed that a person’s ability to pay attention has dropped from an average of 12 seconds to just eight seconds since 2000.
Murset has thought a lot about this, especially where youngsters are concerned. In fact, he has become quite passionate about spreading awareness about this issue by way of his blog and other public commentary.
“The ability to make a connection with one another seems to be lost these days,” said Murset, whose company provides tips and other information about how to teach kids to be responsible with their chores and allowances. “And cell phones are a big part of the problem. They are a temptation that has turned into an addiction.
“Recently, I was watching a TV program where a camera crew provided a behind the scenes look into one of the top college football programs in the country. The coach said (to his team), ‘Men, what is it that I say your generation doesn’t do? That’s right, listen. You know why? You all tweet. You all text. You all do four things at once and never focus 100 percent on one thing.’
"And there it was. The head coach was saying the same thing parents have touted for decades — 'Will you listen?' and 'Can you focus?'”
Murset believes something must be done immediately to remedy the problem. He said the solution lies in the hands of parents leading by example. With that in mind, he has devised the following list of tips to help moms and dads accomplish just that:
1. Know what kids think: A study by AVG Technologies surveyed more than 6,000 children ages 8 to 13 and found that 32 percent of youngsters felt unimportant when their moms and dads were distracted by their phones. In addition, 54 percent of the kids believed their parents spent too much time on their phones. Hear that mom and dad? Time to lead by example.
2. A no phones meal deal: Whether you eat as a family at home or in a restaurant, make your meals “phone free.” Make it a family rule that no phones are allowed when the family is eating. No calls, no text, no snaps and no tweets. Most families spend about 20 minutes eating dinner, so I think the world can probably wait that long to hear from you.
3. Suggest limits: Ever have one of those moments when you look up and the entire family is sitting in the same room staring into their phones or tablets? If so, suggest a time period when phones or tablets can be used. Make sure to leave some time before and afterwards so you can connect as a family, even if it’s watching your favorite TV show together.
4. Put it to bed: There are numerous medical studies that show why having your child go to bed with their phone or tablet is a bad idea. One in particular revealed that kids who go to bed with technology send an average of 34 texts and emails a night after going to bed. Kids need sleep and not midnight texting.
5. Earn the phone: In the US, kids are getting phones around the age of six. Now I’m sure parents have good reasons for a phone that young, but to me, that seems a bit early. My bigger issue is that kids are usually just given an expensive phone and plenty of data. Why? Does a 9 year old need a $600 phone, unlimited data and no supervision? For safety reasons, I think getting a child a basic phone that calls and texts is perfect. However, if he/she wants something more, they should earn it by helping out around the house, earning allowance and contributing to the monthly bill.