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phone addiction

@sheisapaigeturner/TikTok

Maybe there's more to it than "bad parenting."

Unless you've been living on a remote, deserted island, you’re probably addicted to your phone. We’ve all been guilty of ignoring someone right in front of us because of text or a notification. It’s so common we even have a word for it: “phubbing.

But parental phubbing, while just as prevalent as ordinary phubbing, is often seen as more than just a social faux pas. And this perhaps isn’t totally without merit, since research has shown that kids do in fact feel the effects of being ignored in this way.

And yet, as one mom eloquently points out, we can’t just chalk it up to “bad parenting.”


“I was just at my son's Taekwondo practice, and I'd say 75% of the parents are on their phones, right?” Paige Turner, a mom of four, says in a clip posted to her TikTok.

She continues: “And I have seen a lot of commentary about how parents are always on their phones, right? Parents are always texting. They're not watching their kids. They're not seeing how great their kids doing during Taekwondo or baseball or gymnastics, whatever it is. They're just too busy on their phone and why can't they just take a break and look up?”

And this is where Turner offers her alternate, but so spot on take.

“I think the average parent is being asked to do a lot, right? They are working full-time. There's a lack of childcare, so oftentimes, these parents are not only on their phones, I sit next to parents who are on their laptops at Taekwondo practice because we are technically still working, right?” she says.

Since most parents are technically still on the clock by the time an afternoon practice rolls around, of course they’re “Slacking on their phone. They're answering emails. Sometimes, they're even listening to a call,” Turner explains.

So maybe it’s not just about being present with their kids but about parents having to be on call 24/7.

“In an ideal world, our kids would have practices and games at times that allowed us to be fully present,” Turner says. But in reality, “we are being asked to go in many different directions right now, and so many of us don’t have that luxury.”

Turner also points out that the obligation to be at every practice or game is a fairly new concept, parents used to simply drop kids off and pick them up once whichever activity was over.

“We are being asked not only to do more physically: be at every practice, be at every game, volunteer, work full-time, pick up your kids from the bus stop, all these things. We're also being asked to be fully present for all of it, which is impossible,” she notes.

@sheisapaigeturner As parents, we need to be conscious of one and how we use our phones. However, a lot of the critique online specifically about parents being on their phone I could activities is likely missing the full picture. Many parents are multitasking. They are working while at basketball, they are ordering groceries while at dance practice. They are doing many things at one time and juggling all of it as soon as they can. #millennailmom #sportsmom #parentingadvice #socialmedia #workingmom #wfhmom #workingparent ♬ original sound - Paige

Turner concludes by sharing that she posted this perspective to offer some grace against the common “ugly narrative” that parents are simply not paying attention to their kids when parents are most likely doing the very best that they can.

Several parents agreed with Turner and added their own takes on the issue.

“The idea that we have to be present every single second of our child’s life is just INSANE. Especially coming from the ‘go outside and don’t come back until dark’ generation,” one person wrote.

Another added, “also, my phone is where I schedule appointments, order groceries, order prescriptions, fill out forms for all the things, research therapists and camps and doctors and adhd, & I’m a grad student.”

A few even pointed out that even when they aren’t working, phone use during practice shouldn’t be considered taboo.

“Even if you AREN’T working or doing something productive on your phone. Why would I want to watch soccer drills for an hour? Let me play candy crush in peace lol,” one person quipped.

Another seconded, “I’m absolutely not working but I’m using the opportunity of my child being fully engaged with an activity to freaking relax a little. I don't have to just sit and watch them 24/7 to have a relationship.”

Bottom line: of course, it’s important for parents to be mindful of their phone usage, especially when around kids. But our world makes that nearly impossible, and passing judgment on the moms and dads who do find themselves scrolling isn’t of help to anyone. A little compassion can go a long way here.