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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Is technology separating us from our kids...?

We've all done it – waved away our kids when a too-important-to-miss phone call comes through or when we just have to respond to one last e-mail.

We are so connected these days that it's almost impossible to switch off. We reach for the BlackBerry or the iPhone first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and dozens of times in between. We check our Facebook page for updates that wouldn't have interested us just a few short months ago but now seem impossible to ignore.

We do all this without thinking and many times without noticing. But our kids notice. Our kids notice our dependence on smartphones and other gadgets and how everything and everybody comes a distant second to technology and constant communication.

It's not surprising tweens and even younger kids are texting and e-mailing like pros. We taught them. We taught them how vital these forms of communication have become and how a phone call, text or e-mail just can't be ignored.

Is it surprising then that some parents have lost the ability to connect with their kids? OK, we pass the buck by suggesting that it's our kids' fault; that they're the ones with their eyes glued to a computer screen or their ears plugged with those ubiquitous white ear buds. But like almost everything else they do, they learn their habits from us. Their lack of communication is our lack of communication.

Dr. Mark Goulsten writing for The Huffington Post laments our increasingly technology-driven world, where busy parents and parents who only think they are busy have lost the ability to connect with their kids. He believes that parents haven't lost the "will" to connect, guide and teach their children but instead don't know the  "way" to connect.

To help, Dr. Goulsten offers some practical tips on how to re-open the lines of communication, and also teach some important life lessons, including the three Ps – perspective, perseverance and patience.

But perhaps the best advice for disconnected parents is to start greeting their kids by putting aside the phone and closing down the computer. You may not always get through to your kids but at least they will know they are more important to you than the next random e-mail.

Do you feel technology is distancing you from your kids? Is it becoming harder to turn off your online life in favor of home life? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!    

Comment by Graci Gillming, posted 3/7/2011, 10:43 AM:

As the adage goes, "All things in moderation." Finding that balance between tech talk and face talk is a must. Children emulate the behaviors of parents, and students of their teachers. Adults must set the appropriate example and parents must be the ones to set the rules at home. I know of many tech families where the cell phone is not used during the dinner hour and at a certain time at night, the phones are placed in the chargers in the parent's bedroom.
Comment by Ellen Lebowitz, posted 9/20/2010, 4:36 PM:

Interesting story I found quoting Dr. Eitan Schwarz and other professionals regarding kids, parents and digital media. http://jacksonville.com/skirt/2010-09-18/story/overuse-technology-may-cause-unintended-disconnect-your-kids I hope this is helpful to all... Ellen Lebowitz
Comment by Dr. S, posted 7/29/2010, 8:48 PM:

A nagging sense of guilt and inadequacy haunts many moms distracted by today's technology, just as their kids are also becoming less connected to families, as studies show. Good parenting today requires careful planning - like meal preparation - setting access limits of electronic-free times and places, and extensive meaningful positive planned interactions with media together.
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