Your partner seems more interested in updating Facebook about the kids than interacting with them. How do you know when it's a problem?
(from our panel of staff contributors)
If you feel this way, it's already a problem. Talk to your partner about the value of creating new memories as opposed to chronicling existing ones. Maybe "save something for the Christmas letter" would do the trick. Or, when your partner's online, send him/her a direct message on the order of: "Your children are playing in the backyard, and it would be really nice if you could 'like' this."
Sounds like your partner may have a Facebook etiquette problem, too, in addition to the ignoring-the-family problem and the potential living-too-much-through-the-kids problem. A good rule of thumb for parents is no more than one public Facebook posting about your kids per month — and only about the big stuff. You can do more for a more narrowly defined audience of family and select friends. But the whole world doesn't need to know that your little angel sparkled at Tuesday's softball practice.
Try to get through to your partner on a level he/she can relate to: Send a text message to have him/her join the kids in the other room/in the backyard/at the dining table. If the partner doesn't get it, send another message suggesting counseling!
It's a problem. And here's why, says James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media and author of "Talking Back to Facebook" (Simon and Schuster).
You're modeling. "Parents need to realize they're the most important role models for their kids on this topic," Steyer says. "It's extremely important that they unplug themselves and model healthy, balanced behavior for their own kids."
You're missing out. "For your kids' sake, you have to take time away from your devices and create media-free zones and screen-free family time to connect in a deep, genuine way." In Steyer's book, he cites research looking at the emotional toll of our growing reliance on devices. "When important emotional matters are crammed into technology spaces that are ill-suited for nuanced, complex feelings and honest engagement, human relationships can be profoundly affected," he writes. "We may be potentially fostering a culture that is less attentive, compassionate and caring, with less emotional intelligence."
Your kids are fed up. Twenty-one percent of teens say they wish their parents would "unplug" more often, according to the new study, "Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives," from Common Sense Media's Program for the Study of Children and Media.
You're over-sharing. "Let's be real here," says Steyer. "There are real, serious consequences for sharing too much information about your kids. This is part of a permanent digital footprint that goes way beyond a photo album sitting in the living room."
You're setting a tone. A tone, that is, that life is a performance. "The idea that you have to broadcast everything you do to the rest of the world is really worth reflecting on," Steyer says. "This is an extremely important conversation for every parent to have. This is an enormous moment. We're seeing a transformative change in our digital media landscape and parents need to be mindful of what it's doing to their families."
Feel free to post Steyer's list to your partner's wall.
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