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Your children need your unplugged attention

Esther J. Cepeda on

Don't believe it? Go out to any family-friendly restaurant and observe how much time adults spend completely ignoring their child in favor of their phone, or how many times conversations hit a brick wall when a text message chimes.

Schools are becoming no different.

The violation of the sacred learning space of school used to happen only in later grades when students brought their phones into classrooms. But increasingly it's a universal distraction. Even in the lower grades, where students don't have their own personal devices, teachers' phones ding, buzz and ring throughout lessons, small-group work and one-on-one tutoring, robbing students and teachers alike of precious focus.

The experts say that kids cannot learn much without human social connections and suggest a simple fix that seems bedevilingly hard for adults to adopt: Put away electronic devices when you're around children who depend on you for communication, affection and countless interpersonal skills.

At the very least, if you can't disconnect for a majority of your time around kids, start small and build up to longer periods of uninterrupted communication time. It won't be easy, but take inspiration from knowing that the skill of paying close, sustained attention will probably be the single most important emotional and life skill you can impart to a developing child.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group


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