Parents Who Do This May Have More Trouble from Their Kids

Turns out that phone interruptions aren’t quite the same as other distractions.

Features on the latest iPhone update now include Screen Time, an app to measure how much time you (or your kids) spend looking at emails, apps, and social media. Spending large chunks of time in front of screens, not just your phone, can result in some undesirable effects for many people. And, the concern is rising over just how much time we spend on our tech. A recent study shows that one area which suffered when adults engaged too much screen time was their parenting.

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In the study, which comes from from Illinois State University researchers Brandon T. McDaniel and Jenny S. Radesky, the effects on children of their parent’s screen time distractions were studied in 170 families, many of which had parents in their 30s with the average child age being 3-years-old.

Distractions from their phones were viewed as a bigger problem by mothers than by fathers. But, any distraction caused by tech resulted in an increase of behavioral problems in the children like outbursts, crying, turning inward, or other coping mechanisms to deal with the lack of attention they were getting from their parents. The researchers have called this “suboptimal interaction.”

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Other studies have shown that tech can also be an isolating barrier or source of conflict between spouses, so the relationships at home that suffer from too much screen time and constant distraction are not simply those between parent and child.

Researchers are calling interference with family activities that are caused by technology “technoference.” And research has also shown that, since phones are designed to grab and keep your attention, they offer longer-lasting distractions than other interruptions that a parent or a family might experience.

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The takeaway from all this? Experts say that limiting distractions in general could help with family life since young children are too little to understand the reasons why a parent might not be not paying attention to them.