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How your kids really feel about you being on your smartphone

5 On Your Side convinced St. Louis parents to bring in their kids, ages 6-12, to spill the beans.

ST. LOUIS - Parents’ distraction with their phones is a serious issue. So much so kids feel like they have to compete with technology for their parents’ attention. 

So, we wanted to find out how kids really feel about mom and dad on their phones. We convinced St. Louis parents to bring in their kids, ages 6-12, to spill the beans.

 6-year-old Aubrie Jackson said, "My mom is always on her phone."
"My dad texts and drives all the time when he’s driving," said 6-year-old Riley Howell.

"My mom is on her phone a lot," said 6-year-old Quinnie Howell.

"My mom is on her phone for work most of the time, but she’s usually just typing away at her text messages or in the recording for texts and calls," 12-year-old Cooper Smith said,

The kids didn't hold anything back and their parents were in the adjoining room the entire time. 5 On Your Side brought them in to sit down and listen to what their kids had to say.

MORE: You might be surprised at the number of kids who feel like they’re competing with technology for their parents’ attention

Mom Sarah Howell said, “it is to some extent expected because we do use our phones sometimes for work and its tough for our kiddos to understand the balance between when you’re using it for work versus when you’re using it for fun.”

“When you try to see it through their eyes you get it and so you try to be respectful in your own way and what we do is we just take the phone and turn it down. So, when we’re all together you know if the phone is up you do you want to glimpse at you want to glance and see what’s going on, but we just turn it down it will be there when we’re done,” Dad Jeff Smith said.

“I don’t take calls before 8 o’clock, I don’t care who it is. If it’s an emergency, you text me and I’ll address it from there. Their morning has to start. I want to make sure they’re smooth and they’ve transitioned well and then I start my day,” Mom Rachel Jackson said.

“Hearing that it makes them sad, of course that has impact. That was my New Year’s Resolution to turn off notifications. It’s tough, but it’s helping for sure,” said Howell.

Dad Matt Howell said, “We try to teach, we try to do the things we’re supposed to do, we try to tell them the right things but then just hearing it from their side is important.”

“From our perspective, it’s good to hear how it evolves and how we need to tweak and change and evolve along the way,” said Smith.

Here are some simple ways parents and adults can be smarter with our smartphones:

  • Separate work from play
  • Turn off notifications or put the phone in do not disturb mode during family time.
  • Designate a box or drawer where you and your spouse and kids can put your phone during family time. Just think, if it’s out of sight, it’s out mind.
  • Delete apps that you know waste your time and take away from being present.
  • Monitor your screen time. There a ton of apps that will track your usage and give you a hard look at how serious your addiction may be.