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Parents ‘get off your smartphones’ is the message from children craving face-to-face connections

Reminder: “It’s important to remember that we can’t expect our kids to switch off from electronic devices if we as parents are not.”

A COMPREHENSIVE new report entitled Growing Up in Queensland finds that busy parents stuck on their smartphones are ignoring young people’s problems including school stress and bullying.

The report released by the Queensland Family and Child Commission shows that children crave face-to-face connections.

“They want adults to pay attention, have respectful conversations, and listen to what they have to say about the things important to them — they’re asking adults to put their phones down and to interact with them more,” QFCC principal commissioner Cheryl Vardon said.

“The vast majority of young Queenslanders are optimistic about their future, but they want a greater say in decisions that affect them.”

A total of 7000 children aged four to 18 from across Queensland shared their views through a survey, focus groups post-card questions and artwork.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the government commissioned report was “a great eye opener”.

“… Because it shows our kids across the state – our future leaders – are truly engaged with the wider world and how they want their future and Queensland’s future to look,” Ms D’Arth said.

She said that while phones were convenient for work life, effective family life required parents to unplug.

Children learn smartphone habits from their parents.

“My children are the most important part of my life, but like every other working mum I know how hard it can be to step away from work because we now carry our work around with us in the form of our phones,” Ms D’Ath said.

“It’s important to remember that we can’t expect our kids to switch off from electronic devices if we as parents are not.

“We need to try and communicate with our children and importantly our teenagers. This includes being willing to listen, not just talk.

“Importantly, just as we encourage children to reach out if they need someone to talk to, including Kids Helpline, as parents we should be willing to reach out for help when we struggle to manage these challenges.”

The QFCC will use findings from the Growing up in Queensland report when developing policy.

“Our future generations told us loud and clear they want youth-friendly spaces to safely connect with friends, improved public transport, sustained transition to renewable sources of energy, and better information to identify mental health issues,” Ms Vardon said.

“They are interested in how the digitised future will impact them and want more access to life-skills to help as they transition from school to employment, and they want guidance on how to manage their current workloads and stress.

“There is a lot of criticism these days of our young people and their addiction to screens. But what they tell us is they’re being driven to everything digital — games for recreation, screens for education, websites for resources, but what they actually want is real conversations and connections.” 

Ms Vardon said the report provided a snapshot of a large group of Queensland young people at one point in time, building a youth evidence base that provides valuable information to support Queensland’s priority areas.

“Ultimately, young people have shown they are very well informed and want adults to respect their interests to make Queensland an even greater place to grow up in,” she said.

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