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Dear kids, sorry for 'just checking' my phone

Children, can you stop what you're doing and listen to me for a moment? ... Thank you.I wanted you to know tha...

Posted: May 15, 2018 11:36 AM
Updated: May 15, 2018 11:36 AM

Children, can you stop what you're doing and listen to me for a moment? ... Thank you.

I wanted you to know that I've been giving you two a lot of thought lately and to tell you how much I love you. I know I say that all the time, but it's important that you really -- one sec -- sorry, I just need to check that message on my phone first ... Gimme one more sec ... OK, right, sorry. What was I saying?

When I put the phone down or closed the computer, I engaged with my kids more by default

Kids feel neglected when their parents are on devices, and there is an emotional toll, research shows

Oh, right. I was saying how much I value you above all things. You give my life purpose and meaning and -- sorry, hold on, I just need to reply to one quick thing for work ... and now I'm back.

It's about that phone, actually. Because, as you know, for a little experiment, I gave up being on it and my laptop in front of you for a month. For the most part, I was pretty good, right? I closed the computer or put down the phone when you came into a room. And when I absolutely had to be on, I told you what I was doing and why I needed to do it then.

You didn't seem to notice one way or the other. But for me, it was an eye-opening experience. It made me realize how often I'm staring at a screen while talking to you, how often my attention is diverted from the most important people in my life in favor of whatever bits of information happen to be on those devices at the time.

And I noticed that when I put the phone down or closed the computer, I engaged with you more by default. I looked into your eyes while we talked, gave you my full attention. Instead of saying "What?" and asking you to repeat yourself, I heard you the first time, and we laughed or shared something or worked out whatever was on your mind.

Again, you didn't seem to notice one way or the other, but I suspect that you did register the difference. Over time, all that phone-watching of mine will teach you either that I'm too busy to give you or anyone else my full attention or that it's socially acceptable to look at a screen while talking to others, which I don't actually believe. It may be subconscious, but it's affecting you.

Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair and Teresa H. Barker wrote a whole book chronicling the emotional toll for kids feeling neglected when their parents are on devices. "The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age" helpfully offers advice for the problem, including putting parental limits on screen time.

What's potentially worse is that I'm also modeling a behavior that could get us in an accident. According to a Common Sense Media poll, 51% of teens said they see their parents checking and/or using their mobile devices while driving. I'm scared to think of you starting to drive with all these terrible role models out there driving while distracted. And I'm one of them, even though you've heard the story of how your mother and I were driven off the road in Poland by a driver texting on his phone. Will I never learn?

I'm starting to, seriously.

Work emails, Slack, Facebook, texting with a friend, checking the weather: None of these is more important than you. They are not more important than Mom, either, or friends or anybody I'm in proximity to or driving with, actually. But most importantly, you.

I'm glad I forced myself to be off screens during the precious time we have together in the mornings, evening and weekends. I'm more aware of my tendency to ignore you when on them, and more aware of how eschewing screens (for the most part) improves our shared time.

I love you so, so much, and thank you for listening to me tell you what was on my mind. I just wanted you to know that -- oh, sorry, I thought I turned that off ... Where was I?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17807191
Hinds16967332
Harrison14298204
Rankin11280221
Jackson10976190
Lee9088145
Madison8619169
Jones6782118
Forrest6236124
Lauderdale6128192
Lowndes5564120
Lafayette5229101
Lamar507465
Washington4951125
Bolivar4149109
Oktibbeha409482
Panola388281
Pontotoc378560
Warren3698103
Monroe3693110
Marshall358570
Union357764
Pearl River3508106
Neshoba3499154
Leflore3122109
Lincoln307688
Hancock296362
Sunflower293075
Tate281162
Alcorn273554
Pike271081
Itawamba270063
Scott260849
Yazoo257156
Prentiss254554
Coahoma251555
Copiah250749
Tippah250150
Simpson243872
Leake238467
Marion225973
Grenada224272
Covington222473
Adams215371
Wayne215034
Winston207771
George204839
Newton200046
Attala197464
Tishomingo195661
Chickasaw189644
Jasper182538
Holmes172268
Clay167537
Tallahatchie157535
Stone152925
Clarke148662
Calhoun141822
Smith130726
Yalobusha123835
Walthall115037
Greene114529
Noxubee114126
Montgomery112736
Lawrence107617
Carroll106922
Perry105331
Amite102426
Webster97424
Claiborne89725
Tunica89321
Jefferson Davis88930
Benton86523
Humphreys84824
Kemper81020
Quitman7149
Franklin70717
Choctaw63813
Wilkinson59925
Jefferson57121
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
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