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      The Practicing Parent: Phones robbing quality time with kids

      Practicing Parents, a recent study found that:

      67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages or alerts or calls even when they don't notice the phone ringing or vibrating

      44% have slept with their phone next to their bed so they don't miss calls or messages

      29% say their cell phone is something they cant live without.

      So, consider this....the little hand held device is also robbing moms and dads of quality time with their kids. Distracted driving is constantly being discussed, but how about distracted parenting?

      Distracted parents seem to be more engaged with the device than the children they're with.

      The author of this study observed 55 adults caring for children at family type restaurants. 40 used their mobile devices while the kids ate, 16 of the adults seemed completely absorbed in their texting and conversations. The children being ignored did one of two things: took it in stride or acted out to get the adults attention.

      Licensed Psychologist Dr. Shirley McMorris says much is lost.

      "the ability to engage with the parent, not talking to each other, not sharing the same experiences," she said.

      So what can you do? Dr. McMorris says compartmentalize. Consider turning off the electronics for 15 minutes or so and giving your full attention to your child. She says if you don't, you could pay for it later.

      "You're going to find children more rebellious," McMorris said.

      But before you use your smartphone to text or Facebook or feel that you're the worst parent of all time, here's some solace. Dr. McMorris also points out that every age has had its smartphone...the 19th century had books, the 20th century had radio and tv. And she says ignoring your kids for a short time to write a text won't hurt them permanently.

      And if you are going to use your smartphone, you might try concentrating on one of its other apps, like taking pictures of your kids when you're doing things together!

      I am often teased about my cell phone use at work. Constantly on Facebook or Twitter, my co-workers say I have a problem, an addiction. So, I'm working on disconnecting - one day at at time. Actually, after the kids were put to bed last night I found a blog by a friend on this exact issue. This post, "Facebook is like Wine" is worth a read. Of course, after you've put the kids to bed. :)