Nearly 80 Percent Of Parents Want To Ditch Their Devices This Holiday Season

A new survey shows that parents are willing to go on a digital detox over the holidays to be more present for their kids

Prying electronic devices, like phones and tables, from kids’ hands may seem an impossible and all-too-frequent task. But on Christmas Day, it’s the parents who want to ditch their devices to spend more time with their family this holiday season, according to a new Groupon survey.

Of the 2,000 parents surveyed for a Groupon-commissioned survey, 72 percent said they “immediately check their phones as soon as they wake up on Christmas morning,” 86 percent said their children have complained that they spend too much time on their phones, and 53 percent said “they’ve missed out on an activity or bonding moment with their child because they were preoccupied with a phone or another device.” The survey also states the obvious: More than 80 percent said having digital devices at the dinner table is “distracting, disruptive, and ruins quality family time.”

Groupon survey

“Given some of the staggering stats that we found from speaking to parents, it comes as no surprise that eight in 10 are looking to take a break from their devices during the holidays,” said Groupon’s Head of Experiences Brian Fields in a press release. “While devices are critical tools that we use for managing our lives and buying gifts for everyone on our list, it’s also important for parents to set aside some time over the next few weeks to make and cherish memories with their children.”

The average parent, the study conducted by Onepoll further states, spends four hours a day on their devices during the holiday season, amounting to a total of 80 hours across all their digital devices. Even more eye-opening? More than 40 percent of parents said they spend more time on their phone on Christmas Day than any other day. And other interesting findings from the survey include that the average American household has 12 different devices in the home, and that a family of four will spend an average 320 hours — the equivalent of more than 13 days — on their devices over the holiday season.

We are avid supporters of putting the phone down and creating memories with the family. And for those who need ideas on what to do when the gifts are unwrapped, Groupon has you covered. As part of the company’s Rewrite the List Campaign, which encourages people to add at least one experience they can do with others to their holiday wish list, they have plenty of experiential ideas to choose from, from family friendly activities to ideas for a night out on the town. Groupon’s top five holiday experiences, according to parents, include going to the movies, attending a holiday concert, hopping in the car or on a plane and traveling somewhere, decorating the tree, and going ice skating.

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Best Holiday Gift for Teens

Are you looking for the BEST gift to give this holiday? Look no further, I’ve found it and so excited to share all about this amazing computer. Even though it’s for my teenage daughter, I also want one for myself!  Sponsored by Intel Best Holiday Gift for Teens Deciding on gifts for my two teenagers […]

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To My Friends With Kids: Sorry I’ve Been Avoiding You

Hey pal, hope you’re doing well.

Sorry that I’ve been avoiding you since you became a parent. It seemed like a lot to handle and I didn’t want to get in the way.

Also, I had very little interest in your kids. No interest at all, to be honest.

But now I have my own kid, so that’s changed. Self-interest has made me a better man. We should hang out again sometime!

I’m sorry I haven’t been there throughout your kid’s development. Doing anything social before sundown just seemed like a total drag and you were always talking about “bedtime” as if it were a real thing and not some propaganda invented by Big Business to sell more mattresses.

Remember how I used to run away when your kid started crying? I don’t do that anymore. Now I empathize and try to learn from your experience.

Oh no, your daughter thinks her room-temperature macaroni and cheese is still too hot? That’s such a relatable problem that’s totally worth discussing. Let’s crack open a case of Capri Suns and talk coping strategies.

It’s clear now that I was wrong to make that disapproving gesture after you told me the cute nickname that your toddler has for Grandma.

We’re still trying to figure out what my daughter should call my mother-in-law, so I promise this time I’ll listen.

You go with MeeMee for one and Nonna for the other? That’s adorable, please continue. Since we’re on the subject, when did your kid say her first word? Mine just chokes on her fingers – should I be concerned?

Because we’re friends, we probably went through something together that you didn’t take way too seriously.

Cracking jokes with you about the overly ambitious co-worker, the oddly eccentric professor, or the clueless customer probably helped me get through some pretty boring times. It turns out that was all small potatoes compared to how seriously other parents take themselves. They schedule everything including the time to sit down and make schedules.

I can’t do this alone. I need you now more than ever to help me navigate this minefield of all-natural, BPA-free, kid-friendly society.

I need a pair of eyes to roll mine towards the first time an adult asks me to sit “criss-cross applesauce,” and I hope they’re yours.

I’m a stay-at-home dad now, so I literally have nothing else going on. Jenny goes back to work this week, and I’m scared to be alone. The baby keeps looking at me like there’s something more I should be doing.

The worst part is, I think she’s right. But I have no idea what that something is – Legos, maybe? Could be anything.

Wanna grab a bite to eat? We can go wherever you want, as long as the men’s room has a baby changing station. Restaurants are way less crowded on a Tuesday at 10 AM.

What’s going on this summer? We should walk around a pond together or sit in a shaded part of the parking lot until my baby stops crying. That’s what I’ll be doing, with or without you.

Not to brag, but my local library has a Keurig now if you’re looking for coffee on the cheap. Or we could go to a petting zoo and make fun of the stupid sheep. I’m up for pretty much anything.

I know it’s been a while since we talked, but I promise there won’t be any awkward silences. I could easily talk through a full meal by just comparing butt creams.

Who came up with the color choice for Boudreaux’s butt paste anyways? And why is that other brand butt cream so watery? The last thing our kids need down there is something else that’s runny, right? See, we already have an inside joke!

I’ve seen the error of my ways and promise to be a better friend. At least until your kids become teens. Those things are the worst.

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How The Phrase ‘I Wonder’ Can Guide — Rather Than Direct — Your Teen

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I used to fantasize about how well my kids would listen to me. I would preempt tantrums by using a calm, patient voice and offering reasonable alternatives. Once my kid became a teenager, he would always care about my opinion because I’d phrase everything in such a perfect way, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from listening. I would have all the answers and my kids would be eager to hear them.

LOL forever and ever for all eternity.

Not that my two kids and I don’t have a fantastic relationship. We do. It’s just that, after 13 years in this gig, my little fantasy is proving to be just that — a fantasy. It’s pretty, but it bears little resemblance to reality.

My kids, like all kids, are their own autonomous beings with their own ideas, opinions, and whims. And, no matter how smart they think I am, no matter how good my ideas are, they want to exercise that autonomy. In fact, the pushier I am with my ideas about how they should do things, the more resistant they are to comply.

Two simple words can start a dialogue.

That’s why, lately, I’ve been trying to back off of giving my kids explicit advice or direct commands. Instead, whenever possible, I start discussions using the phrase, “I wonder…” I came across the idea in an article on Medium, where LCSW Jason B. Hobbs explains why, in his private practice, he often finds himself encouraging parents to use this simple phrase with their kids.

Hobbs points out that, as with any skill we are trying to improve at, making independent decisions takes practice. If parents dictate every move their kids make, the kids don’t get a chance to flex those decision-making muscles. Beginning a dialogue with the phrase “I wonder” encourages them to do so.

We parents often can’t help ourselves from jumping in to provide direction to our kids, even when it means we’re only getting in our kids’ way. Studies have shown that children, especially younger children, learn better the less adults interfere. In one study, a complicated toy was given to 4-year-olds. In one group, the children were allowed to figure out on their own all the different things the toy could do. The other group was given instructions by an adult on how to use the toy. Guess which group figured out more things to do with the toy? Too much instruction literally hinders a child’s learning.

From dictating our kids’ play to making larger decisions for them without their input, we convey the message that we doubt their ability to learn and make smart choices. Before even giving them a chance, we jump in with our vast life knowledge and tell them what we think they should do. Their brains are primed to experiment and seek independence, and yet we send them the implicit message that we don’t think they can handle it.

Use “I wonder…” to show your kids you care what they think and that you trust them.

Imagine if, as you’re trying to make a decision about whether to purchase an SUV or a van, someone butts in with, “You should take the van! It’s roomier and more practical!” But this person doesn’t know you’ve already reviewed all the specs on both vehicles, and the SUV has better gas mileage and just as much seating as the van, plus will fit in your garage better. The person didn’t even ask what factors were most important to you. They assumed they knew what was best for you and jumped in with their opinion.

That’s how we can make our kids feel when we neglect to include them in the decision-making process. It can make them feel  like we don’t trust them, or like we don’t think they’re smart enough to decide things on their own.

At the moment, I’m using “I wonder…” with my teen son to help him decide which high school to attend next year. It’s a big decision. His zoned school is a very good school, a traditional high school with a football team, a solid music program, and respectable academics, especially their IB program.

Also nearby is a choice school that is the highest ranked school in the state and one of the top 500 in the country. It’s a college-prep school with fewer students and no football program, a rigorous academic program–so rigorous that many students transfer out to their zoned school after a year–and a college-acceptance rate of 100%. I know of parents whom, when their kids were accepted to this school, didn’t give their kid a choice. If they get in, they go. No discussion about it.

But, if my son is accepted, I will let him decide whether to attend. I trust him to make the right choice for him. I trust him because when I say, “I wonder how much difference you’d see between the AP classes from one school to another,” or “I wonder how you’d feel in a big school versus a small school,” or “I wonder if it would help to talk to students from both schools to get an idea of how they feel about their school,” he works through those answers aloud in a way that reassures me he is carefully weighing each option.

He talks about how, since he wants to get into engineering, he knows he needs to seriously consider the college prep school, but that he also doesn’t want to spend his entire high school career doing nothing but homework. He has ADHD and it often makes homework take significantly longer for him than for other kids. He is smart to consider this.

It’s a big decision that I won’t make for him (unless he gets stuck at 50/50 and says, “Mom, decide for me”). I generate discussion using this “I wonder” method, and it builds my confidence in his ability to make a smart choice that he can live with and feel good about. For now, it looks like he’s leaning toward the college prep school (if he gets in) with the option of transferring out if he tries and it just doesn’t work for him.

We need to show our kids they have control over their own destiny.

In his article, Hobbs talks about what he says is the most important point: locus of control. What message are we sending to our kids about the potential outcomes in their own lives? Do events simply happen to them, and they have little control over the outcome? That’s called an “external locus of control.” Or do they have a say in what happens to them? Do their choices matter? Do the decisions they make affect the outcomes in their lives? That’s an “internal locus of control.”

Hobbs says that most kids react with anxiety to a world where they feel they have no control. Sound familiar? It may not be a coincidence that the rise in “helicopter parenting” coincided with a rise in anxiety among kids and teens.

I don’t want this for my son. If I thought he wasn’t thinking things through, if I thought he didn’t care about his future or was simply looking for the easiest path, maybe I would feel inclined to exert more control over this decision. But, because I’ve been using “I wonder,” I know what he’s thinking. I’ve heard his reasoning, and it is sound. I trust him.

He will make mistakes, but that’s okay. Making mistakes, and learning from them, is an essential part of developing good decision-making skills. We all had to go through it, and so do our kids. The hardest part is wondering whether or not they’ll be okay.

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Watching Your Kid Get Their Heart Broken Is Absolutely Brutal

If you ask any parent, they’ll probably tell you it’s hard to see their kids get physically hurt. Nursing a bike-riding injury or a bump on the head post-wrestling match, when combined with tears, is rough on a mom or dad’s heart. You do everything you can to calm them down and let them know the pain is temporary, because you know it is.

So yeah, it sucks to see our kids get hurt—any parent will attest to that. But, for every bump or bruise or even broke bone we have to nurse, it’s 100 times harder when we see our kids battling a broken heart. This one cuts us to our core and is hands-down one of the hardest parts of parenthood. (Like harder than potty-training hard.)

That’s certainly my truth anyway. For example, my child ran head-first into a mirror a few weeks ago and shattered it with his skull (he’s fine, btw), and I barely batted an eye.

But when I find out someone has been mean to my kids? And made them question their own self-worth? That lights a fire inside this mommy like nothing else. It’s like a sleeping dragon just woke up and drank a Redbull, and it takes every bit of my strength to keep from annihilating that kid who hurt mine.

That’s the thing though—as much am I ready to go straight up Daenerys Targaryen and breathe fire upon their world, I can’t. Because as their parent, that’s not my job.

Heartbreaks (although on the smaller side) have already happened to my kids, so I’ve just begun my initiation into this club of parents whose kids have been bullied or treated unkindly. And yeah, when your child comes running off the bus in tears because another girl yelled at her and said they aren’t friends anymore, it does kind feel like you’re being hazed.

Because even though fire is about to come out of your eyeballs as you hold your distraught child, you have to sit on your hands and purse your lips and not actually beat down that girl’s door and demand an explanation for why she made your kid cry.

That’s not how it works.

Instead, you have to quiet the dragon (and the dragon queen) and help your child cope with the heartbreak on their own. Because the harsh reality is that this isn’t the last one they’re going to face. And as much as you long for a protective bubble that can shield them from all the insults and all the “I don’t like you anymore” statements and all the social media teasing and all the teenage dating broken hearts, and all the times they don’t make the team or get a part in the play, you know the truth. No such bubble exists. And if it did, you wouldn’t wrap it around your child anyway because you want them to live a full life.

And a full life means love. And loss. It means joy. And pain. It means success and failure. And it means true, loyal friendships and bratty little Emilys and their “We’re not friends anymore!” attitudes that make your own daughter run in the house sobbing.

Here’s the thing that we don’t want to tell our kids, but we have to: there will always be struggles. And rather than pave a clear path for our kids, it’s our job to instead empower them to face heartache. To make our own kids into dragons who can handle shit, and breathe their own fire. (Or, least build up a tough dragon-scaled skin and a feeling of self-worth that no one can destroy.)

So yes, I will admit that I had to try reeeeeeally hard to not say, “What’s Emily’s last name? Where does she live?” when my sweet little girl came running in the house recently, sobbing. But I didn’t.

I let her cry it out a while and just held her. Once she was calm enough to talk it through, I got the full story, and then did what a real mother of dragons should do. I asked my daughter how she viewed herself. Was she a good, kind friend? She said yes.

And nothing and no one can take that from her.

No one is allowed to make my little girl feel lesser than.

We talked about the person my daughter is. How everyone is always commenting on her kindness. Her generosity. Her fairness. How helpful she is to others. And how she makes the world better by being all of those things.

But I also told her the hard truth. As much as she brings beauty and goodness into the world, there will always be ugly parts. There will also be people who will hurt them, either intentionally or unintentionally. And oftentimes, that hurt is the result of their own hurt and pain.

And we talked about how we respond when people are unkind to us. First of all, if we are the ones who did something wrong, we should apologize. But in a case like this (when one 8-year-old is mad because another 8-year-old sat with different friends on the bus that day), what do we do or say in return?

I teach my kids to stand up for themselves, but to also try to be kind as much as they can. I believe that this little girl was feeling hurt when my child sat with a different friend that day and acted on that hurt. And while my kids don’t deserve to have their peers yell in their faces, they can take some time to reflect on the situation before choosing their response.

In the end, I told my daughter that it was her choice whether to sit with this child again, befriend her again, or tell her she needed some space. Just like I can’t breathe fire when someone hurts my kid, I also can’t make decisions for my children and control their behavior when they aren’t with me. I have to trust them to make those choices on their own.

I knew that the next morning, these two girls would board the bus and neither of their parents were going to be there to mediate.

Well, in typical 8-year-old fashion, they are friends again (which was expected). But I do think my daughter learned from this. I think she’s a little bit tougher and a little bit more prepared for the next heartache. And all I can do is be there to hold her, talk her through it, and remind her of her own self-worth.

I hate to think about it, but someday she’ll likely face true, long-term heartbreak as a teen or as an adult. (Or both.) And I’ll admit that I still dream of that imaginary bubble that could shield her. But the reality is that all these smaller transgressions — 8-year-old bus incidents, being left off birthday party invite lists, hearing someone tease you about your shoes — these add up. And it’s our job as parents to help them add up the right way. Rather than spewing negativity within our kids and hate for the world, we have to change the narrative. We have to talk about why some kids are unkind. Why we sometimes get our hearts broken. Why we sometimes don’t make the team. And how we are strong enough to heal from it and move forward, stronger than ever.

It’s one of the hardest parts of parenting–seeing our children in pain. It’s natural for us to want to take that pain away. And sometimes we can. We can put Neosporin and a bandaid on a cut. We can put ice pack on a sprained ankle.

Nursing a broken heart, unfortunately, is not that easy. And, honestly, it’s sort of an essential part of growing up. Because although it kills us to see our kids hurt and feel that pain of rejection—of a lost friendship or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or not making the team—we also get to see them heal from it and come out on the other side stronger than ever, knowing they are going to be okay.

And then we know we’ve done our job.

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