Parents, this is an important read.
Many parents struggle with limiting their kids’ screen time. And when it comes to their own compulsive phone use, they have some work to do as well. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis speaks out about this disconnect, insisting parents need to lead by example in order to help their kids develop a healthy relationship with technology.
In an essay for NBC News, Curtis lays out the argument that an obsession with our phones and with social media is a societal problem, and that it’s up to adults to make sure it’s not passed down to the next generation.
“There’s an obsession with other people’s personal lives, and people are obsessed with themselves, which children can’t help but pick up on,” Curtis writes. She calls the problem a “runaway train” and bemoans the constant cycle of comparisons to others and ensuing feelings of inadequacy that result when we spend too much time on social media.
To combat this pervasive issue, Curtis suggests that parents insist on phone-free time at home.
“Insist on unplugging, and include your spouse, if you have one,” she writes. “Commit to walking in your house with your family and turning off your phone. Can you do it? Because if you can’t do it, your kids can’t do it. And if you can’t demonstrate that behavior, then don’t be surprised when you’re sitting at dinner and your kid’s looking down at their phone. The phone isn’t going to teach them to put it down; you have to.”
It seems that the leaders of France agree with Curtis that kids are spending too much time on devices. The European country recently made headlines for banning smartphones and smart devices from schools. Lawmakers passed a new law that took effect at the start of the school year for children between the ages of 3 and 15. French high schools will get to choose whether or not to ban the devices for their students.
“We know today that there is a phenomenon of screen addiction, the phenomenon of bad mobile phone use … Our main role is to protect children and adolescents. It is a fundamental role of education, and this law allows it,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer on French news channel BFMTV.
Curtis was actually inspired to write a children’s book on the topic, “Me, Myselfie & I: A Cautionary Tale.”
“Kids already know when their parents aren’t paying attention, and I think that kids, when they read the book, will then be the ones to say, ‘Mom, put your phone away,’” she explains in her essay. “It’s a cautionary tale — a funny, silly one that highlights the exaggerated parts of this phenomenon of self-obsession, but it’s the beginning of a conversation that needs to be had.”
What do you think of Curtis’ advice?