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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.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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