I’m Too Busy Right Now, Just Play on Your Phone

by Meggie S.

It’s sad to see the effort that goes into youth development through some parenting today. In the busy schedules of today’s professionals, it unfortunately is the proper fostering of youth development that seems to get compromised in some cases. The strategy of giving a child a gaming device to play with while waiting in an office for an appointment to keep them busy seems to have been adopted in the home setting as well. Are some parents taking the easy route when it comes to parenting? Are parents themselves living unhealthy lives due to the lack of play with their children? It all seems to be building up.

One article I read was on a study of mothers advancing professionally. It talked about how much of a toll work takes on their lives including their parenting (Lorra, 2010). People are becoming consumed with their jobs and bringing it into their home as opposed to leaving their work at the workplace. They are also at work for so long each day that they have only time to do their household chores and then go to sleep. It is becoming too easy to just hand a child an iPod, or phone, or some sort of electronic gaming device to keep the child busy and safe indoors where they can see them; but what about the child’s development? Children are having far too much screen time per day. There needs to be more play in their day, and I mean physical, creative, imaginative play, nothing electronic. When we consider the effects of physical activity and how it reduces stress, we know that it affects other aspects in our lives and allows us to manage other tasks better. If parents took the time to play with their children, they may find there will be job stress, and also become more efficient with it. It does not always have to be outside play either. Parents can make blanket forts with their children, for example, and foster developmental assets with their children. These assets can be both internal and external, using family support (external) and personal power (internal) (Search Institute, 2014).

A negative factor of having a child become technology dependent, is that their behaviour becomes unpredictable. An article I read interviewed parents with technology dependent children. Some parents described their home environment as living in a house of cards (O’Brien, 2001). They described it as unpredictable and uncertain. There is no physical experience achieved by living through a screen. No vital developmental assets can be fostered through a phone or an iPad. It seems to create antisocial behaviors within households between parents and children. It is important that children have the foundation of a relationship with their parents. Without this, the chances of social bridging with adults are compromised because they will have very little experience in dealing with them.

Parents have the luxury these days of having access to everything they need through their phones. If parents have to work on something, they do not have to necessarily participate with their children in play, but they could take them to a park or some sort of green space. With doing this, they would be able to work on what they need, while their children will gain the benefits of being in a green space. As mentioned in an article I read, youth having exposure to green spaces will reduce the chances or symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Faber, 2011). This in itself will benefit the child as it allows them to be creative and still spend time with their parents. This activity could allow social bonding in leisure time for children as other parents could be doing the same with their children.

Parents want to do well in their careers in order to support their family. I am suggesting that some parents could spend more time playing with their children as opposed to paying to enroll them into a program that will ultimately keep them busy for two hours.
As a society, we often look at afterschool programs, sport and recreation clubs, and youth development activities as the answer for proper youth development. I feel that parenting must still be the main element to focus on when it comes to proper youth development. Whether they are supportive and involved in their children’s lives and activities should be a major determinant on how the child develops.


Faber, T. A., & Kuo, F. E. M. (November 01, 2011). Could Exposure to Everyday Green Spaces Help Treat ADHD? Evidence from Children’s Play Settings. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(3) 281-303.

Lorra, M. B. (January 01, 2010). The relationship between motherhood and professional advancement: Perceptions versus reality. Employee Relations, 32(5), 470-494.

O’Brien, M. E., (2001) Living in a House of Cards: Family Experiences With Long-Term Childhood Technology Dependence. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596301900831

Search Institute (2014) 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. Retrieved from:

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4 Responses to I’m Too Busy Right Now, Just Play on Your Phone

  1. gregsteele17 says:

    Meggie, great topic and one that effects positive youth development. Our society has become a digital world where it appears every one is one the run and on their devices whether it be for parents and their work lives or a means for social communication. Unfortunately, this digital society has made it very difficult for people to socialize and establish real relationships face to face. Parents are using electronic devices as babysitters for their children so they can either get their work done whatever that may be. Yes, work life can take a toll on parent’s lives as it is much easier with technology to access work from home. This may have some positive advantages but for the most part I think it blurs the lines of work/life balance and has grave effects on children.

    Parents need to take a more active role in playing and spending quality time with their children without the aid of an electronic device. Play and establishing life long relationships between child and parent are key to success youth development. The opportunity for physical activity will help reduce some of the alarming statistics that have come out on the obesity rate in our country and the time spent in play helps with the development of creativity and imagination that are also important components of positive youth development. Parents need to stop and take the time from their busy lives to enjoy and appreciate what is truly important their investment in their children and providing them with the best opportunities for positive youth development and quality of life. These things carry forward in to their adulthood so they can share the same positive experiences with their children. by Greg S

  2. j6kj3 says:

    When our parents were children, their parents took the easy way out by telling them to go outside, it got their kids out of their way for hours at a time. They didn’t think of all the benefits it was having on their children they just wanted their children outside so they could do their work. Now parents are taking the easy way out and now are not telling their children to go outside but instead sitting next to them playing a simple game. Parents these days are generally busier with work and more protective of their children.

    So parents need to find a balance between work and play when raising their family. I enjoy the alternative you gave with taking your child to the park and parents still being able to work while at the park. Parents’ doing this does get children out of their house and playing all while parents are able to continue working. However parents cannot stay glued to their technology while at the park with their kids. It is just as important for children to be able to be independent at the park as it is for their parents to be engaged in the kids play. Parents participating in play with their children create a stronger relationship between them.

    -Laura Bray

  3. mfergunb says:

    Great post Meggie!

    I wholeheartedly agree that parents and even youth care workers are too easily persuaded to turn to electronics for go-to activities. I mean, how many times do we see children on their mothers iPhones in waiting rooms or line ups? I also think we all have that younger niece, nephew or cousin that we say can handles an iPad better than most adults can. All of this is from the constant exposure children receive from electronics; a lot of the time being right from their parent’s hands! This definitely supports your perspective on technologically dependent youth.

    I really enjoyed how you pointed out that not all parent-child activities need to be outdoors. Your blanket fort idea was really refreshing, as I think those one-on-one simple activities really boost imagination and creativity; characteristics they can also use with other forms of physical activity (play time).

    Leaning towards personal, healthy interactions and leaning away from the easy screen time methods will not only benefit the child’s physical, mental and socio-emotional development, but I also think will benefit the parent’s overall relationship with their child. A screen can only teach so much..

    – Meagan F.

  4. jordandavenport says:

    Great post, I agree that in today’s society it seems to be coming harder for parents to separate their work from family. Parents need to find a way to leave their work at the office and take part in more activities in their child’s life. In not meaning to say that parents use things like after school programs, sports and recreation clubs for ways to get out of playing with their children. I think that parents need to take the time to do things with their children that does not involve screen time. If youth see their parents doing activities outside it will encourage them to get away from the screen and be active. Instead of parents buying all the newest technology devices for their child, they need to try and take time out of their day and be active with children in different ways, like children, it is important for adults to play as well to promote healthy living and be role models for their children.

    It is important for parents to build good relationships with their children. So if that means parents setting aside their work life and getting off there own technology devices for a couple hours. I think that it is something that parents could manage to help with providing positive youth development.

    -Jordan D.

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