Living in the digital world makes it difficult to put down our devices, but a new study reveals that too much time on the mobile device leads to bad parenting habits and even relationships.
A few weeks ago, LifeDaily covered this story about a Mom who put her phone down and watched her kids play at the park. In the name of conducting a social experiment, Brandie tallied the number of times her young boys looked at her while they played.
“28 times my angels would have wondered if the World Wide Web was more important than them. 28 times my boys would have not received the attention most adults are searching for.
28 times my loves would have questioned if they were alone emotionally. 28 times my kids would have been reassured that who you are online is what really matters.”
Twenty-eight was the magic number of times her twins looked to see if she had noticed the skills they were learning or the bad behavior she hoped they weren’t.
And she saw all of this because she wasn’t staring down at a device. She was building a better relationship with her children simply by paying attention to them. And there’s scientific evidence to back this up!
A new study from Boston Medical Center reveals that parents who become too absorbed in their cell phones have more negative interactions with their children because the kids feel they are competing with the device.
To study the effect of smartphones, Dr. Jenny Radesky, a fellow in developmental-and-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, observed interactions between children and adults without participants realizing they were being observed.
Undercover investigators surreptitiously observed any adult-child grouping with more than one youngster as they ate at a fast-food restaurant. The observers recorded the behavior of both the adults and the children in 55 groupings, as well as how frequently the adults used their smartphones, according to TIME.
The study showed a look at what happens when parents are absorbed with their devices and children compete for their attention. One child reached over and attempted to pull his mother’s face up and toward him, while she stared at her tablet. The child’s action was unsuccessful. Another mother kicked her child in response to the child’s multiple attempts to get her to look away from her smartphone. And a father responded with irritated tones to his children’s escalating efforts to pull him away from his device.
“What stood out was that in a subset of caregivers using the device almost through the entire meal, how negative their interactions could become with the kids,” says Radesky. And while the study didn’t quantify the quality of the interactions, it’s clear that there was a correlation between device usage and negative interactions.
But this isn’t news, people, and it has nothing to do with the technology itself. This is about attention.
Children need the affection and attention of their parents and if parents are going to place priority on something else (whether it’s a cell phone, television, or bowl of macaroni and cheese), children respond appropriately. They try to pull that attention back to them.
So please make sure you are giving your children a healthy amount of attention and try to make all interactions with your children positive ones.
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[Featured Image: PJ Media]