The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Why Parents Need To Put Down Their Phones

 / 

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Why Parents Need To Put Down Their Phones

Distracted parenting: How too much of social media and screen time is hurting kids and hindering their overall development.

The question is, are you overdoing it?

Why Parents Really Need to Put Down Their Phones

Parents on devices distress children and reduce their resilience.

Young children are closely attuned to their parents’ attention. They depend on that attention for their survival, of course, but also for their social and emotional development.

Several recent research studies show the damage parents can do when they’re physically present, but distracted and less responsive because they’re attending to their smartphones.

 

Study #1: Moms on cellphones have children who are more negative and less resilient.

In one study, published in Developmental Science, infants and toddlers from seven months to two years old were assessed for temperament, social engagement, exploration, and post-disruption reunion and recovery. The researchers reported that children expressed more distress, and were less likely to explore their environment when their mothers were using their cell phones.

The young children whose mothers reported greater habitual use of mobile devices outside the lab showed more negativity, and less emotional recovery when their mothers did turn off their phones. The researchers concluded, “Like other forms of maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness, mobile-device use can have a negative impact on infant social-emotional functioning and parent-child interactions.”

 

Study #2. Children feel unimportant, and have to compete with smartphones for parents’ attention.

In a large international study of six thousand eight- to thirteen-year-old children, 32 percent reported feeling “unimportant” when their parents use their cellphones during meals, conversations, or other family times. The children reported competing with technology for their parents’ attention. Over half of the children in the study said their parents spend too much time on their phones.

 

Study #3. Distracted parental attention harms children’s social/emotional development.

Yet another major study, this one with rats, also showed the ways distracted parental attention harms babies’ development, especially their ability to process a pleasure and engage in social activity. Rat pups raised by distracted mothers were otherwise given what they needed to thrive. They achieved normal weight, and they spent the same amount of time with their mothers as the babies raised in the normal environment. The researchers observed, however, that adolescent offspring who had been raised by distracted mothers ate less sugar solution and spent less time playing and chasing their peers than did rats raised by undistracted mothers.

What differed was the type of attention they received from their mothers. Distracted mothers tended to be less predictable, less reliable, and less attentive. The researchers concluded that fragmented and chaotic maternal care disrupts brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life. “We need predictability and consistency for the emotional system to develop,” they write. The same researchers are now applying their findings with rats in studies of humans.

 

Study #4. Cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting.

A pediatrician and her colleagues became sufficiently concerned about parents using cellphones and ignoring their children that they set up a study to assess the prevalence of this behavior at fast-food restaurants. Many parents pulled out a device immediately on sitting down. Most used it during the meal, often appearing more absorbed in their smartphones than the kids.

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” – Caitlyn Jenner

These researchers found that kids whose parents were absorbed in their devices were more likely to act silly or be noisy. Many parents on cell phones were irritable and impatient, which only led to worse behavior. They observed that cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting. Children, they write, “learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions. And if that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.”

 

Study #5. Kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely when parents use cellphones.

Yet another researcher interviewed a thousand children between the ages of four and eighteen, asking them about their parents’ use of mobile devices. She reported that many of the children described themselves as “sad, mad, angry, and lonely” when their parents were on their devices. Several young children reported damaging or hiding their parents’ cellphones.

This was an interview study, so the researcher couldn’t determine exactly how the digital disconnections might affect a child in the long term. But she learned enough to conclude that parents should think twice before picking up a mobile device when they’re with their kids. She said, “We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

Ultimately, kids thrive when they receive consistent, dependable, focused, loving attention. Using a smartphone when you’re with a child is a form of psychological withdrawal and non-responsiveness. We’re not talking about staying off your phone 100 percent of the time—more like 90 percent. It’s okay to answer an urgent text or make a quick call, especially if it includes your child.

But as much as possible, when you’re with your child, be with them. Put away that phone and other electronic devices. Enjoy the brief moment you have to help your child grow into the delightful adult you hope they will become.

As a parent, you will obviously want only the best for your child and would want them to flourish in every aspect. One of the best ways you can do that is by reducing the time you spend on your phone, as it is not going to help both of you in any way. Distracted parenting can only have negative effects on your child, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

If you want to know more why parents need to put down their phones, watch this video:


Written By Dona Matthews Ph.D.
Originally Appeared In Psychology Today

You May Also Like:

Modern Parenting May Hinder Brain Development – Studies Suggest
13 Alternative Strategies To Discipline Your Child, Than With a Simple NO
Parenting Challenges In The Digital Age
New Parents, Listen Up: Passion and Parenting Can Co-Exist 

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Why Parents Need To Put Down Their Phones
The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Why Parents Need To Put Down Their Phones

— Share —

— About the Author —

Response

  1. Louisa Bukiet Avatar
    Louisa Bukiet

    Why is this article labeled “mothers” and not “parents?” The words we choose matters and the choice to leave fathers out of the title further minimizes their responsibility for their children, which our culture already does a great job of reinforcing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

Why Is A Father Figure Important? 6 Ways He Shapes His Daughter’s Life

Why Is A Father Figure Important? 6 Essential Reasons Why

Why is a father figure important? Research shows that a strong relationship with a father figure can have a significant impact on a daughter’s development. Learn the six ways he leaves an indelible mark on his little girl’s life.

You know what they say – a father’s love is like no other. And it’s not just the warm hugs and tender kisses that make it special, but also the invaluable life lessons that he imparts to his daughter.

From boosting her self-assurance to empowering her to stand up for herself, a father can make a profound impact on his little girl’s life.



Up Next

The Impact Of Dads On Daughters: 15 Signs Of Daddy Issues

15 Warning Signs Of Daddy Issues In A Woman

Ever heard the term ‘daddy issues’ and wondered what it means? Well, it’s not just a pop culture buzzword. Signs of daddy issues can manifest in a myriad of ways, affecting how we perceive ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us.

From seeking validation to struggling with trust, these signs can impact both men and women and have roots in our deepest emotional experiences.

Understanding the complex dynamics of daddy issues is important, but it is crucial to approach them with sensitivity and without reinforcing stereotypes.

So, let’s dive in and explore the telltale



Up Next

To Mom, With Love

To Mom With Love feature

“To Mom With Love” is a phrase that encapsulates the deep appreciation and gratitude we feel towards the most important woman in our lives. Whether it is her unwavering love, her tireless dedication, or her selfless sacrifices, a mother’s impact on her children’s lives is immeasurable.

Through personal anecdotes and reflections, we share the lessons we have learned from our mothers, the memories we cherish, and the love that we hold in our hearts. Ultimately, “To Mom With Love” is a celebration of the unconditional love, strength, and wisdom that only a mother can provide.



Up Next

Invaluable Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Invaluable Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Mothers play a crucial role in shaping our lives, and their guidance can have a profound impact on our personal growth and development. The article also touches on universal themes, such as love, resilience, self-discipline, and perseverance, which are often at the core of a mother’s teachings. Ultimately, “Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom” celebrates the deep and unique bond between mother and child and acknowledges the enduring impact that a mother’s guidance can have on her child’s life.



Up Next

Find Your Animated-Mom Persona: Which Cartoon Mom Are You Most Like?

Which Cartoon Mom Are You? Fun Mother's Day 2023 Quiz

Curious about which cartoon mom are you most like? Are you a boss mom or a cuddly caretaker, there are many out there, find out who your animated-alter ego is now!

This International Mother’s Day 2023, welcome yourself to the world of interesting quizzes that will help you determine your mom personality.

Mothers are often the backbone of a family, providing love, guidance, and su



Up Next

50+ Strong Mom Quotes: Paying Tribute to Your Fierce AF Mom

50+ Strong Mom Quotes: Paying Tribute to Your Fierce AF Mom

There’s nothing quite like the bond between a mother and her child. And for those of us lucky enough to have a strong, fierce, and fearless mom in our lives, we know just how special that bond can be. That’s why for Mother’s Day 2023 we have compiled these 50+ strong mom quotes to honor all mothers out there.

A strong mom is a woman who has faced her fair share of challenges but has always come out on top. She’s a warrior who has fought tooth and nail to provide for her family, to protect her children, and to instill in them the values of resilience, hard work, and determination.

So on this Internati



Up Next

What A Mother Knows Best: 14 Things My Mom Was Completely Right About

What A Mother Knows Best: 14 Cherished Pieces Of Advice

There’s a saying that goes, “A mother knows best,” and it holds a profound truth that resonates in the hearts of many. Whether it’s about life choices, personal values, or everyday habits, there’s often a pearl of undeniable wisdom in the words of our mothers.

This mother’s day 2023, let’s celebrate the unique relationship with our moms – whether she’s our biggest cheerleader or toughest critic, it shapes our and sets expectations for ourselves.

a mother knows best when it comes to her

AI Chatbot Avatar
⚠️ Liza is in training with WMHA and may not always provide the most accurate information.