How to miss a childhood: The dangers of paying more attention to your cell phone than your children

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  • Michael Hunt Murray, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    For every teenager or young adult glued to their phone are two parents that didn't show them the dynamics of a true relationship. Where are the non-obligatory home visits in Utah from friends outside of the family? Meeting your neighbors once a week at church isn't sufficient, nor is providing assistance or comfort in exchange for divine compensation.

  • Light and Liberty St. George/Washington, UT
    Aug. 21, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    Most Americans are slaves without really knowing or admitting it. Cell phones, Facebook, Internet, Common Core (It keeps us from having to think ourselves) or commenting on opinion pieces (but I need to get My opinion heard). Another name for it is self-absorption! Surprise, surprise!

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    For those who are anti-texting ( mostly older folks), you might want to reconsider. I used to be highly against it and proud of my non-electronic gadget life. I felt quite superior. However, I reluctantly learned to text and I have had to eat my words. Texting has allowed me to keep in touch with my young adult children in ways I could not before. I am glad for it now. I do agree, however, that it takes discipline not to let it take over the times I am physically with my loved ones. This article is a very good reminder of that.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Aug. 20, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    Growing up in the 1950's, we kids knew that a telephone call was a pretty important thing. Whenever we heard the phone ring, we would huddle around Mom to hear what was going on. It was very interesting, and didn't harm us in the least.

    Obviously, in those days Mothers only spoke on the phone at home. When you were with Mom away from home, she gave us her undivided attention except when another adult was around. We understood that grown-up conversations took precedence. This helped us be less self-absorbed. It was good for us.

    I think today's parents are beating themselves up too much on this subject. Unless Mom or Dad are on the phone constantly while with their children, they can express love to the children and still interact with other adults.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    paying more attention to your cell phone + Face Book + Twitter + internet games etc.......

    I see people these days with their hand held devices acting like they are in some sort of trance....glued to the app running on their phone or ipad. I have kids who tend to spend lots of time on the internet and I am looking forward to Labor Day weekend when I can get them away from cyber space for a few days and lost in the High Uinta Mountains (Kings Peak). No internet service phone service ...YIKES!! How will they survive? I can't wait to find out!

    Adults are consumed with Face Book these days - especially women. My wife lives on Face Book. Nothing bad - just family and friends mostly but the time spent staring into a monitor is astounding. As an electrical engineer I spend my work days staring into a PC or MAC and I can't wait to get to the weekend to get away - really get away.

    Much healthier to introduce your family to the great outdoors so they can see what they are itself!!

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 11:49 a.m.

    To "Aaron S" you may want to consider getting texting on your phone. Elder Bednar came to my Stake Conference and told all of the parents and grandparents that have children and grandchildren out of the home to get texting. He said it was important to use as a way to keep in contact with them. He was concerned that grandparents were not connecting well with their grandchildren because of each group's use of texting.

  • Danny Chipman Lehi, UT
    Aug. 20, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    I'm an old-souled Millennial--I update my tech grudgingly. I don't have an iPad or a Smartphone, nor do I want them. I don't have time for fruitless game apps. I've looked on at my kids' dance classes at all the parents (seriously, -all- of them), absorbed in their devices like zombies. I might be sewing or studying instead; my kids know I won’t watch them every minute, but it's eerie seeing all the vacant expressions around me.

    That said, I'm also a writer and a news-reader, as well as the deal-finder, recipe searcher, medical diagnoser, direction finder and general info searcher for our family. So I do spend a few hours a day on the computer. I don't want my kids to remember me as someone glued to a screen, though. I try to limit my reading and writing to naptimes and after bedtime. And when I have to be on during the day, I explain what I'm doing to them. "I'm signing up for a blood drive." They see that tech has a place in our lives, but not above them.

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    Aug. 20, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    If you are not riding your mountain bike on the trails around Utah then you are worse than everyone staring at your phones.

    It's time to live again.

  • inevergrewup HERRIMAN, UT
    Nov. 28, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    I get the importance of this but also it can rub me the wrong way. I'm a young mom who spends a lot of time interacting with my kids; art projects, singing, talking, playing with them, etc. Every day! So if I go to the park and they are playing well. Yes I am going to pull out my phone and chat with other moms on FB or Instagram, or whatever. And guess what? I need it and deserve it! I hate that so many other adults are sitting by just ready to judge that little time of the day that they do see.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    Feb. 26, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    I'm not a parent, but it goes the other way too. I took my two nephews and a friend of theirs to a Bee's game a couple of summers ago. None of them spoke a word to me (even though I'm pretty sure we like each other a lot)or each other. Whoever they were texting must have been pretty important because what could have been a nice outing and a good memory was neither of those things. I liked watching the game. They liked looking at their cell phones.

  • Vernal Mom Vernal, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 6:24 p.m.

    This mom, mother in law, and new grandma, has had a bit if a wake up call by reading these comments, There I am, smartphone in hand, laptoop on lap.....while I'm visiting my grown kids. I couldn't possibly miss a phone call, text, or status update?!! Heaven forbid! As far as blogs go, I can't imagine having time to do that with children and babies at home. I'm with you - PG Dad.

    Feb. 23, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    The "connected world" is even more insidious than just missing your kids' childhood: I noticed one day at 10:00 break at work, every one of my coworkers sitting there mesmerized by their phones. Not to sound superior, but I think my 61 years have given me SOME wisdom: seeing this danger I avoid smartphones like the plague, and have no texting service on my phone: only I and one other worker, both of us in the near-retirement age, actually TALK to people around us. I don't touch "social media" and don't even have TV in my home. But people tell me I am a great conversationalist. Anybody remember that art?

  • PGVikingDad Pleasant Grove, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    Ah, the irony: Creating a blog to lament too many hours on your phone.

  • Clwilki Suffolk, VA
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:13 p.m.

    I completely agree. I noticed that the phone was the last thing I looked at at night and the first thing I looked at in the morning. I realized rather quickly that things needed to change and changed them. My mother in law and mom are on the Internet all the time when they visit. I think they are worse than the kids. I also agree that the church meetings have gotten out of control. I know it was mentioned in Conference but I don't see any improvements. My husband is in the Bishopric and we have three small children and his meetings are ridiculous. He gets to church early every Sunday for Bishopric council than ward council twice a month. He stays after for interviews and such and is responsible for tithings every other month. He is there every Tuesday because he is over the youth. He also has to attend BYD and BYC. All of this doesn't even count his home teaching and random Stake trainings. I am all for a 2 hour block on Sundays instead of three!

  • Jazzledazzle Provo, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    This is a great article. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I have noticed how fast time goes and I know they will be teenagers before I know what hit me.

    I am shocked at the amount of people I know who are grown men that play hours of video games and talk about them like they are teenagers. I think gaming, facebook, television, etc.

    I am most guilty of tv, I watch a lot of sports. Great article, something for all us parents to reflect on.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    My parents had something worse that took their time

  • Hippie Farmgirl Farmington, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    I have the same problem with my mother-in-law. Any one on her cell phone is more important than me standing right there in person. It's the same with call waiting. I'll be having a heart to heart talk with her and then someone will beep through and suddenly that's more important.

  • Shooter_McGavin Las Vegas, NV
    May 24, 2012 7:02 p.m.


    The problem is that although the brethren said to cut back in General Conference, a lot of the meetings and time devoted to callings is a result of requests from the COB. Granted, I've never been in a bishopric, but just from Elders Quorum callings, I spend hours each month gathering home teaching numbers and inputting data. It is menial and mostly unnecessary, but still required by Church Headquarters. I know many bishops who spend 30-40 hours/week doing church callings. Even cutting back 25% (which is nearly impossible to do) is keeping them away from their families more than any amount of cell phone or Internet use (healthy use that is).

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    May 24, 2012 2:19 p.m.

    I would say I look to agree or disagree most of the time when reading articles and columns in the paper. This is the first time in a long time, that I soaked up the advice while reading. I feel enlightened here Rachel. This at home father thanks you. Now back to my kids.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    May 23, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    Las Vegas, NV
    Another thing that has taken more time away from my kids than the Internet, cell phones, and television combined; church callings.

    We seriously need to consider scaling back the frequency of planning meetings, quorum meetings, and interviews that eat up hours and hours of our weeks.

    Shooter -- I'm not sure how long you have been a member, but within the last 4-5 years there was a talk in General Conference where Bishops were TOLD to scale back -- to stop having all of the meetings, the ward functions, the kind of stuff that eats up family time. Its been my personal observation that many Bishops must have been sleeping thru that talk. I listened -- I have stopped attending some of the unimportant meetings and ward functions as there is more than one way to skin a cat.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    May 23, 2012 9:18 a.m.

    I spend time most mornings going for a jog/walk in the neighborhood and have had witnessed driver cell phone usage that has nearly caused several accidents when children were present. I've been thinking about what kind of laws should change re cell phone usage by a driver in a car.

    First. a driver may not use a cell phone in a moving vehicle if there are any children in the vehicle. Children don't have a choice to be or not to be in a car with a distracted driver. Thus, take the priviliges completely away from the driver.

    Second, no cell phone usage by a driver within a residential neighborhood. Again, children are walking around and can't anticipate quickly enough what they need to do if a distracted driver near their presence.

    It would be nice if people would take care of their own behavior and be more careful and less distracted with their cell phone usage. But clearly selfishness is winning out here. Its time for legislation.

    And the penalty needs to be SEVERE, such as losing driving privileges for awhile.

  • Sqweebie Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2012 4:33 p.m.

    I've noticed moms on trax and buses with their kids and if the baby is making happy noices in goes the pacifier and and rather interact with the child she ignores him/her and plays with her phone.

    I have a smart phone also but I very seldom use it for surfing and because I don't get many calls it stays in my purse until needed.

  • Shooter_McGavin Las Vegas, NV
    May 21, 2012 10:31 a.m.

    Another thing that has taken more time away from my kids than the Internet, cell phones, and television combined; church callings.

    We seriously need to consider scaling back the frequency of planning meetings, quorum meetings, and interviews that eat up hours and hours of our weeks.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 15, 2012 2:33 p.m.

    We got our first cell phone when our first child went to BYU and the apartment did not have a phone. Since then (and it took a few years) we have all obtained those stinking little devices.
    Now I can't drive anywhere with my wife without my kids calling my wife! They never call me.

    Oh her relationship with our kids is amazing. They always had her undivided attention. Nobody says anything bad about their mama and gets away with it. They can call me anything they like, but not the mama. Nope.

    All our children were raised without cable TV, video games, cell phones and the like.

    My ancestors left England by boat, traveled across an ocean and 2/3rds the way across a vast continent without even receiving a letter from their loved ones in England. Now days a kid can't go to the store without a smart phone.

    Technical and social cripples.

  • Lone Star Cougar Plano, TX
    May 15, 2012 12:53 p.m.

    Awesomw article! I believe this is so important to the new generation. What will our kids do when they have been raised on smart phones?

  • gatsby Murray, utah
    May 15, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    Thank you so much!! I am an older Mom. I didn't marry or get my children until my late 30's. I have very conciously chosen not to own a cell phone, in large part, for the reasons that you're talking about. The years are flying by, and the time with my children will very quickly be gone--and I refuse to miss it!! The years never come back, and I know that the time that my children will actually want to be with me (before their teen years) is especially precious.

    Thanks for your courage and humility in addressing this important issue!!

  • Utah Native Farmington, UT
    May 15, 2012 9:39 a.m.

    It's not just the phones, but all online browsing and social media. I'm an adult in my 40s and yet when my own Mom comes to visit and is glued to her laptop the entire time, looking for bargains on eBay or checking her Facebook, I think, "Really? Would you seriously rather be shopping instead of connecting with your grandkids? Is Words with Friends (with friends who are miles away) more pressing than having a real conversation with those who are actually in the room?" So, it's not just a warning to parents but to grandparents as well. Be present. Choose reality over virtual imitations.

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    May 15, 2012 6:58 a.m.

    I started leaving my phone at home several months ago; i check it three times a day, when i get home from work, when i get home from school and before i go to bed. Strange thing, I find my relationships far more fulfilling and i am closer to my loved ones than i have been since i got a cell phone.

    Put the phones away everybody! it is the best thing you could possibly do for yourselves and your families.

  • bikeboy Boise, ID
    May 14, 2012 4:03 p.m.

    Cellphones, and more particularly "smart phones," are a bane to society. We are devolving. Remember the Good Old Days, when you didn't have to be in constant contact? Remember when you could attend to your driving? Not to mention the loss of up-close-and-personal togetherness that Ms. Stafford so vividly describes.

    The streets are full of Smartphone Zombies, lurching about... staring at their little screens or clicky-clicking on their tiny little keys.

    My favorite times are those when I can leave the cellphone on top of the dresser, rather than packing it around. Freedom!

  • Colorado Reader Littleton, CO
    May 14, 2012 3:33 p.m.

    OUCH! That is a little too close to home! Glad my children are mostly grown, but I think this is a good reality check for interaction with people of all ages! Great article!

  • Joe Moe Logan, UT
    May 14, 2012 2:24 p.m.

    Oh wow. What a reality check. If people will seriously think about this, lives will change. I'll go first. Thanks Ms. Stafford.