It’s the parenting paradox of the moment: never before has it been so easy to stay connected to our families through technology—at the same time, we find ourselves too distracted by our smartphones to interact with them in person.

The everyday choices we make about using our cell phones or working on screens when our kids are present can significantly affect every aspect of their health and development.

For my book The Big Disconnect, I’ve interviewed more than 1,000 kids from kindergarten-age through high school who described having to vie for attention with their parent’s cell phone. They felt their parents were “missing in action,” routinely engaged in conversations, texting, emailing, watching shows, or using apps.

The ripple effect on relationships is equally worrisome. When we drop everything to tend to our phones we’re sending the following message: “It’s okay for me to just check out on you—you are not that important. Our conversation, our presence together, our relationship, none of it is a priority.” We’re also teaching our kids to do the same thing.

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The times of day when your kids need you to disconnect
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