Parents and technology – How much is too much?

Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 23:40:40-05
Nearly every person, even children have smart phones. Most of the time, experts talk about kids spending too much time on their phones, but what about parents?
As parents we've all been there and felt guilty after spending too much time on our phones while the kids are around. 
But there are things you can do to break free from the technology and create a happier family life.
Emily Yonke and her husband are both teachers. They are parents to two little boys. They understand how difficult it can be juggling kids, work and technology. Emily said she spends about an hour a day on the phone, talking with family or on social media. 
“After a while with Harrison, I started to realize I was on it too much,” said Emily. 
She noticed times where she wasn't in the moment. It’s a guilt many parents feel, her husband did as well. 
“Why aren't we talking and winding down together? Why is it winding down on your phone?” said Emily. 
And the Yonkes aren't alone. 
“You say okay, is it good that for an hour every night, I'm like this on my phone when I have my children around me doing homework, asking me questions, and I'm totally tuning them out,” said Dr. Lynn Wagner, an Integrated Lifestyle Physician with BayCare Clinic.
Dr. Wagner says she sees it every day, even in her own life. 
“I'll put my phone in the trunk, or make a pact when I get home, Ill silence my phone and not look at it,” said Dr. Wagner. 
She uses Facebook for her business and is constantly checking email from patients. 
Dr. Wagner said technology can actually become an addiction.
“The first thing they do when they wake up is go through their Facebook or social media, and check their e-mails,” said Dr. Wagner. 
Using your phone, being on social media -- the comments, the likes -- it gives you a high. 
“If you're happier on technology on Facebook, or social media platforms than you are in your own life, it should just be an awakening for you that something needs to change in your life,” said Dr. Wagner. 
So as parents -- even grandparents -- adults in general, what do we do?
“It's not going away so I think it's learning how to work with it and make it work for you,” said Dr. Wagner. 
She explains the first step is do not feel guilty, it's okay. Then, take a look at your habits and then structure your time. Start small. Set aside maybe 30 minutes in the morning 30 at night and dedicate that time to your phone. Otherwise, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
That's exactly what they Younkes did.
“We put them back in the office area over there just to not have it as a distraction with the children around,” said Emily. 
They came up with the rule about a month ago. Every night after work, their phones go in a box in the office. 
At first, Emily says it was difficult. 
“We both break the habit once in a while,” she said.  
But now, it's normal and makes their family happier. 
“Being able to watch them and realize, they're more entertaining than technology is,” said Emily. 
Exactly what Dr. Wagner talks about -- life is more than technology.
“Human connection is so critical for health, for well being, for having a long happy life,” said Dr. Wagner. 
Jena Richter Landers, a Social Media Specialist at UW-Green Bay also gave us some tips to cut out some technology. She suggests doing things the “old school way”. Instead of using your phone as an alarm, start using an alarm clock. That'll stop you from looking at your phone first thing in the morning and getting sucked in right off the bat. 
She also said use a grocery list, instead of the notepad in your phone. That will stop you from picking up the device so frequently.
You can also delete apps so you physically have to open them in a browser and you’ll be aware of the choices you’re making.
Landers also said you can take “disconnected breaks” while on vacation.