Does Cell Phone Use Distract from Your Parenting Responsibilities/attention?

Updated on June 04, 2011
F.O. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
22 answers

I ask this question because I was really impressed with my child's learning center's decision to make it a no cell phone zone. The problem has been parents talking excessively while picking up their children. They walk in on the phone, put the jackets on. They are inattentive to the child, as well as the teacher(s) trying to ask questions/give reports, etc.

Another example is at parks and play areas, parents are on laptops, phone, texting, fiddling with the key pad, their heads are down and the kids are running mad, they have no clue what's going on. I've seen bumps, bruises, kids walk off, everything.

How distracted are you? Do you always turn your phone off when attending to parenting duties, etc?

As a rule, I don't ever turn my phone off. I put it on vibrate. I always want the option of being available in case of emergency. Other than that I have to focus on the matter at hand because it only takes a split second for an accident to happen/tragedy to strike.

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answers from Redding on

I don't have a cell phone.

I go to work, grocery shopping, attend social engagements.
I have a couple of amazing kids.
I navigate through life just fine with no cell phone.

I admit there are times they might come in handy, but then again so might a Cabana Boy and I don't have one of those either.


Best wishes.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Shane crack me up!

I fought getting a cell for many reasons. But I have one and rarely talk on it. I do use texting often but it is usually scheduling type stuff.

I love that policy at the children's center..just pathetic that they had to implement it.

Soooo sad when the child center has to tell parents how to parent better.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I hate cell phones, we have one I bought for 15 Dollars, it's somewhere in the house uncharged, I really never use it.
Cellphones are great for emergencies, but people are glued to it, like their life depends on it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I have wanted to mention this problem for a long time but thought Id too easily get on a soap box and scream,,, My biggest complaint about most moms now is their cell phone addiction and inability to pay attention to their kids. I see it so often and it makes me mad, and sad for the kids. In stores, and play grounds, and home, they cant put that phone down, and the little kids are fussing and asking for a drink, or they have a question and stand there tugging at moms sleeve, saying "mommy mommy, I have to go potty,,mommy, mommy mommy", and finally, M. screeches back "WHAT?" And the little guy cries and then M. gets mad and says "stop bugging me". And then he wets his pants and she gets mad and yells at him "WHY DONT YOU TELL ME WHEN YOU HAVE TO GO?" and he is crying saying "I tried to tell you".... Yep I see it all the time played out in many ways. Kids are being ignored right and left because parents are too selfish to hang up the phone and be a parent. And so many say they spend all day with their kids, and call it one-on-one time. But really if youve got a cell phone in your hand texting, and listening for the next text, the kid knows there is someone else getting your attention. You might as well have another person sititng on the couch with you, and you are talking to them and ignoring the kids. I see it in my own daughter and hate it. And NO I dont have a cell phone. Now, how many of you ignor your kids while youre on the computer? oh darn, there I go getting on a soapbox... I hate when that happens.(o:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

wow.. i never go to pick up my kids from preschool on the cell phone. it just seems rude, if i need to finish a convo i sit in the car then get off the phone promptly saying "i have to go pick up my child from school now, bye"...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I had a family member that taught a a Head Start center. She said 90% of the moms came in on the phone, never asked a thing about their child's day & headed out still on the phone!

I think it's a great policy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Far less distracted than if I'm reading a book. Which is what most parents used to read at parks.

Of course, I have an only child... who's also of the daredevil variety... so I've never been able to sit back and relax the way some parents get to as either siblings play together following the same rules, or less accidental-suicide prone children can play quietly.

As far as reading a book/talking on the phone while picking up my child somewhere... that's just rudeness. Ill bred not to focus your attention on those in front of you without begging their leave to. The whole "instant answer" of the phone made sense back in the days post operator and pre voicemail... but it makes very little sense now for the vast majority of the population.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I'm a cell phone junkie. I tweet, facebook and text a lot. But..I don't do it when I'm picking up my kids, when I'm in line at a check out, when I'm having a face to face conversation with someone, or when I'm in a public place (park, McD's Play Place, play area at the mall) where I should be watching my kids. It takes one second for a child to walk away, get hurt or be kidnapped. I would never be able to live with myself if I was too busy on FB to notice my kid was missing. There's a time and a place for everything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Not only accidents. At an airport one day I watched a dad with a little one in tow. The little one was frightened and almost crying, trying to keep up with daddy, evidently wanting her father's reassurance, and the dad was paying NO attention at all because he was angrily busy with a phone call.

I like cell phones (I didn't always, but after 9/11/01 I realized how useful they were), but they can be mistaken for real life. We have to be the bosses of our cell phones and other equipment, instead of having them be the boss of us - no matter what our jobs are or what our friends are doing.

I must mention something else, though. Several years ago, when one of my daughters was in college, she spent a summer with her roommate's family. It was a great excuse for us to visit that part of the country. Roommate's dad was career military, with a high-level job in D.C. which DID actually require him to be on call 24/7. Literally. So he frequently did have to stop for his cell phone. In between those phone calls, even if it was only five-minutes, he was one of the best, most focused, most attentive husbands and fathers I've ever seen. He didn't let his phone or his job detach him from what was more important. His children could count on him, and they loved him (as well as their mama) - and now his grandchildren do, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

There is nothing sadder than seeing a Mom pick up a child from school and not give that child a hug and ask how their day was. but it isn't always a cell phone that is distracting them. They are distracted by chatting with others, dealing with too many children or thinking about their jobs, lives etc Moms these days claim to be too busy to parent well (not all moms! some moms have several children and a full time job or big volunteering commitment and do not use it as an excuse to ignore their children)
Personally I always found having a cell phone helps me parent by connecting me with babysitters and with my (now 20 yrs) daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I do not use my phone when my attention is to be with my child. So, not at the park, not at his baseball practice/games, not at his school, not on our bicycle rides, not at gymnastics class.... in other words, I am not distracted by my phone. My time with my child is too precious to waste talking to other people, playing games, or checking email.

My mom spent all her time on the phone when I was growing up, and sadly we didn't have cell phones back then because maybe, just maybe, I would have at least been at a park while my mother talked on the phone instead of indoors at home.

I do, however, sneak a peek at my phone for emails while I'm at work! But that's another discussion all together!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I don't like talking on a phone in general to be honest, my cell phone even more so. I would never come nattering away on my phone to pick up my kids or anything like that. Yeah, sometimes I'll poke at my iPhone while the kids are playing on the playground but I always look up constantly and check in with the kids, it never encompasses my attention at all. Yes, I will sometimes ask them to wait a second while I finish a phone call and then make a point of finishing up the phone call quickly.
I have watched parents who completely ignore their kids and are completely focused on their phones. The kid is desperately trying to get their parents attention and they are completely ignored, told to wait, shut up whatever.
It's sad that no cell phone rules have to be made. Makes no since! Disgusting that parents are so selfish!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

I do not have a cell phone either...


Where do I sign up for a 'cabana boy'??

THAT seems like it might have more perks???


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Yes, i believe they do - they consume many adults...

I have seen people (NOT EXAGGERATING HERE) literally run into a pole and other people because they have been texting and walking....

When I worked in Day Care - parents would come in yapping on their phones with no regard WHATSOEVER that the care giver needed to talk to them about their day...they grabbed their kid(s) and walked off...yapping away...

I've seen parents at parks yapping away while their kids are fighting, hurt, etc. they are sooo wrapped up in their conversation that they totally space out on the important things - THEIR CHILDREN!!!



answers from Omaha on

Kudos to your child's learning center!

It's an unfortunate sign of the times that they have to regulate use because society (parents) are incapable of self-regulation.


answers from Seattle on

I keep my phone on...if it's on vibrate I don't feel it!! WTH!? lol
But, I am rarely on my phone. I hate being available to other people at all hours of the day. I keep a phone because I am often out and about with my 3 kids so I may need it if we break down, get in an accident, get robbed, win the lottery.
I hate Hate HATE seeing people on their phone out in public blah blah blahing!! REALLY!? I don't want to hear your conversation! Don't tell your kid to "shhhh" while you are talking to your girlfriend about your latest mani/pedi! Talk to your kid.
I totally get talking on the phone just to chat, don't think I don't! But, there are times and places for that. In line at the bank, picking up your kids from school are NOT those places.


answers from Los Angeles on

I used to be *that* parent. I justified talking on the phone while picking up my son from middle school because it was work related and during the workday. My son set me straight, but it did (sadly) take him a few tries for me to catch on.

Now that he's older and I have two little ones, and I'm home an awful lot, I'll admit that the laptop has become too important. I've been justifying it this time with several excuses: It's how I can connect to people, because we live an hour from friends and family; my neighbors are all unfriendly; I have to be sitting here anyway (I have a constant nurser), I may as well "get something done." I've been working on balancing things out, but I really am lonely up here, our neighbors really are unfriendly (the one who wasn't was a blatant racist *gag*), and I really do spend a lot of time sitting around nursing. Pathetic, I know.



answers from Dallas on

My cell phone is zero distraction for me, by choice. One of my biggest parenting pet peeves is people who ignore their children, so they can mess with their phone. I was in the store last week and a lady let her tiny infant cry and cry while she was messing with her phone. She eventually propped a bottle up against the car seat, I'm assuming just to shut her up so she could continue with her phone. Sad.



answers from Reno on

I don't ever talk on the phone when I'm out with my kids, family, friends... anybody. And I don't text, ever. In fact, I hate having to carry a phone at all. I'm FIRMLY of the opinion that you need to FOCUS on the task and people at hand. I can't tell you how often I have to repeat something, or explain something, to a family member who had their head in the phone.



answers from Eugene on

I use my phone for emergencies and so my kids can call me when they or I am out. Anyone who wants to chat can call my home phone, leave a message and I usually return calls in the evening or when my kids are away or asleep. I don't get what there is to talk about on the phone all day.



answers from San Francisco on

If I used my cellphone instead of paying attention to my kids, YES it would effect my effectiveness as a parent. I do not use the cell unless its an emergency or my kids are busy with something else-- I would NEVER use it while picking them up from school etc. Its disrepectful to the children and I think its rude! I am glad that your school has a no cell zone. Its too bad the parents aren't listening to the rule.


answers from Dallas on

I turn it to vibrate. If I'm at a dr's office waiting, or something, and I'm emailing or talking on the phone in the exam room waiting for the doctor, I immediately get off when the dr comes in. Or I'll not answer if someone calls, etc. I would not be on my phone at times like that.

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