Get off the phone: Should daycares shame parents for their cellphone habits?

A Texas daycare centre wants parents to stay off their phones when they pick up their kids. Getty Images


That was the the bold underlined message on the door parents were greeted with last week when they picked their kids up at a Hockley, TX daycare centre.

“You are picking up your child,” the note reads. “Your child is happy to see you! Are you happy to see your child?? We have seen children trying to hand their parents their work they completed and the parent is on the phone. We have heard a child say ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy…’ and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child. It is appalling.”

Mom Juliana Mazurkewicz, whose daughter goes to the child care centre, took a picture of the note and shared it on Facebook on Jan. 27.

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“The owner posted the sign on the door,” Mazurkewicz tells ABC News. “I was surprised that they would be so bold, but also I liked it. I thought it was on point.”

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Since then her post has been shared nearly 1.3 million times and has opened up a discussion among parents on social media.

Some agree with the daycare’s message.

“I know there are people out there that feel they can do what they want to do, raise their child as they wish, but your children feel less important when they are replaced by your phone, your gaming [sic] device, etc.,” Eileen Skolnik-Schellbach says on Facebook.

Others, however, had a strong opinion against the note.

“This is ridiculous,” wrote Sofee Ellis on Facebook. “Who is anyone to tell a child’s parent not to use their phone? They might be working? Or have an emergency or anything else that’s none of their business. The school doesn’t know what they’re like once they leave there with their child. Stop telling parents what they can and can’t do and mind your own business.”

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“I’m paying you to do a job, I don’t need you to tell me what I should be doing,” Christopher Mcclary writes. “I’ll be finding a new daycare.”

While parenting expert and author Ann Douglas agrees with the general message the daycare is trying to send, she says this wasn’t the way to go about it.

“I don’t like the way [the message] was delivered,” Douglas says. “If I was a parent I would immediately feel judged, shamed, saying I’m a bad parent. They don’t know all the nuances associated with it. What if I just got a message about a medical appointment for my child?”

Douglas says she doesn’t believe technology is bad, but it’s all about using it wisely and setting a good example.

“There’s the issue of role modelling,” Douglas says. “We want to raise our kids to understand how to use technology wisely and not let it get in the way of their relationships and their accomplishments. So sometimes the kindest, most respectable thing we can do is put the smartphone away for a few minutes and have a conversation with them and then get back to it once the conversation is over.”

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Problems begin to present themselves when technology takes priority over the child, Douglas adds.

“The quality of the [parent-child] relationship diminishes and your child picks up on that and is likely to start acting up more and their behaviour will spiral because they feel they have to compete with the [technology],” she says.

If there’s one thing Douglas wants parents to know, it’s that parenting is a constant learning curve.

“Nobody gets it right all the time,” Douglas says. “Everybody is guilty of being distracted at times. We’re all learning the ropes together. So if you feel like you blew it today, that’s OK – tomorrow’s another day. Your child will give you all kinds of other opportunities to practice your parenting skill.”