Parents want to give the gift of being present this holiday season by cutting down on screen time

Posted at 5:06 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 18:41:40-05

CLEVELAND — Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there's a growing awareness about the time we spend staring at a screen.

Four in five parents would be willing to cut back on technology to be more present with their families during the holidays, according to a new survey conducted by Onepoll and Groupon.

At the Cleveland History Center they're creating a space that encourages moms and dads to ditch their devices as they walk through the door.

"You never want your kids to think that your phone is more important than your relationship with your child," said Patty Edmondson of the Cleveland History Center.

In the battle for attention, often it's children versus cell phone.

"Mom, why are you on your phone? Mom, what are you looking at,” Catherine McAllester said.

McAllester, a mom of two, is aware of the impact her screen time has on her children.

"It drives them crazy," McAllester said. "If I'm checking my work email or if I'm on Facebook or anything like that I feel like I'm missing out and I feel terrible too."

The newly conducted survey found that McAllester isn't alone. Nearly 80 percent of parents say they want a break from their devices over the holidays.

For McAllester and her 3-year old daughter Margot, their escape from the screen time is the Cleveland History Center.

"There's no plugs, there's nothing humming, there's no screens anywhere," McAllester said. "There's so many things to do to engage both of us at the same time.”

The center's "Kidzibits" is a space where parents are encouraged to engage with their children—tech-free.

"It's less about what we say and it's just more about the environment that we create," Whitney Stalnaker said.

In the survey that polled 2,000 parents, 52 percent of them said they will curb cellphone use over the holidays by going to the movies. 41 percent said they will attend a concert and 31 percent said they will sing Christmas carols.

"A lot of parents, it's very easy to kind of get absorbed into the phone," Stalnaker said.

With more time at home during the holidays, that can be even easier to do. Not just for parents but their children too.

"When I have my phone and I'm looking down and looking away from them they're automatically drawn to it,” McAllester said. “Their entire focus is now on the phone instead of what we're doing."

Parents who took part in the survey also said they will spend about four hours a day on their tech devices during the holiday season.