Advertise with us

Home Local Digital devices compete with parents, says counsellor

Digital devices compete with parents, says counsellor

E-mail Print
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Kids satisfy their ‘attachment hunger’ through electronic connections
By Josh Tng

Photo Caption: Deborah MacNamura, pictured here giving a talk at St. Ann's parish in Abbotsford, says the use of technology is replacing the emotional bond of parents with their children. ( Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic )

Digital devices are competing with parents to form a relationship with their children, says a parenting expert.

“Among individuals aged 12-24 (in Canada), nearly 100 per cent of them use the Internet as of 2010,” said Deborah MacNamura, director of Kid’s Best Bet, a counseling and family resources centre. “Canadian connectivity is the highest it’s ever been, with Vancouverites topping the polls.”

According to a poll in 2010 (Kaiser Family Foundation), youth aged from 8-18 spend 10 hours and 45 minutes a day accessing technology on average. “Teenage internet addiction is on the rise with multiple pediatric warnings,” MacNamura said.

In a presentation to parents at St. Ann’s Church, Abbotsford, she warned of the emotional substitute this “unprecedented access” technology provides to children.

Increasing technological connection to their peers can also cause children to use these peers to fulfill “attachment hunger,” placing them in a higher hierarchy of respect than parents or authoritative figures.

Another issue with child development and technology is the free and immediate access of information, MacNamara. “It interferes with healthy brain growth, undermines our ability to control content, and suffocates tentative individuality as well as tender emerging ideas, curiosity, and reflection.”

She pointed out studies show a connection between delayed cognitive development in children with regular exposure to electronic media. With plenty of distractions, devices take young children away from the real world, removing the required stimuli to develop their cognitive muscles.

“The problem with today’s digital media and social connectivity is it takes children away from the adults who are meant to be raising them,” MacNamura said. “It sabotages their ability to be fulfilled by what we (parents) provide.”

MacNamura said children require emotional bonds with their parents. “Children need to be freed from their attachment hunger by adults who are assuming this responsibility.”

Traditionally, children have oriented themselves around the adults in their life, said MacNamara. “But in the last 50 years, kids are increasingly taking their cues, values, and bearings from each other.”

When children would rather be with their peers, “they can feel miles away from the adults who care for them. They become difficult to take care of and readily make decisions without adult influence.”

MacNamura suggested several methods of fostering healthy parenting, such as ensuring electronic devices are in publically accessed, high-traffic; banning electronics in bedrooms; and frequently interacting with children in a friendly manner, especially before allowing them access to screens.

“As parents, our job is to be a buffer to the digital world until our children are mature enough to handle it.”

Young children develop optimally when engaged in play, she said. “Play is where the self is truly expressed. It is where growth and development first take place, and preserves psychological health and well-being.”

Once children develop as “separate beings, full of their own ideas, intentions, meanings, aspirations, preferences, and values,” they are fit to explore the technological jungle by themselves, she said.

“We should not send our children into the digital world empty-handed, with only their technological tools in tow,” MacNamura said. “Maturity is the prerequisite for true digital citizenship and to this end, adults are still the best device.”

The way parents raise children “has drastically changed with the development and pervasiveness of technology,” said Eileen Gaudet, a St. Ann’s Family Group member who organized the event. “We didn't grow up with smartphones, and all of this technology so it is new territory for most of us.”

As parents, practical skills such as educating and communicating positively “can help us stay connected with our children so they can thrive and develop healthily, and help them navigate this new digital world,” Gaudet said.


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 April 2017 14:03  

Dear reader,

Due to an unmanageable amount of spam and abusive messages, we are no longer able to offer the comment function on our website. We respect the principle of public debate and remain committed to it. Please send us a note at and visit us in the near future when we have finished building our new website — at which point the comment function will be restored.

Kind regards,

The B.C. Catholic






Salt and Light Webcast
  Courtesy of Salt & Light Television

Click image to watch Video
Medieval Gem - UBC acquires papal bull

Click image to watch Video
Paul Goo's Diaconate Ordination

Click image to watch Video
Thank You John Paul II



4885 Saint John Paul II Way Vancouver BC V5Z 0G3   Phone: 604 683 0281 Fax: 604 683 8117
© The B.C. Catholic

Informing Catholics in Canada since 1931