Previous studies have warned about the effects of smartphones on children's well-being. Now, a new study examines parents' smartphone habits and its impact on their parenting.
The new research found that parents who are glued to their phones or other gadgets, including television, are more likely to miss out on quality times with their kids. Parents who prefer attending to their phones instead of eating and playing with their kids, and putting them to sleep could strain their relationships with them in the long run.
Aside from having a fewer conversation with their little ones, parents who are busy with their smartphones are also most likely to exhibit hostile reactions when their kids try to get their attention.
Their children, on the other hand, tend to be more frustrated all the time. They could also be hyperactive, more prone to whining, sulking, and throwing tantrums.
Technoference And Parenting
The researchers from the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School has particularly looked into "technoference" and its impact on the quality of parenting.
The study submitted in the journal Pediatric Research and published in Springer Nature on June 13 specifically defined technoference as "everyday interruptions in face-to-face interactions because of technology devices."
In the study, the researchers mentioned previous surveys where parents were found to use televisions and other gadgets for a total of nine hours every day. A third of this time, parents are glued to their smartphones and tend to neglect more important family activities that mold their children's interpersonal and emotional well-being.
For their study, the researchers surveyed 337 parents with children age 5 years and below. The parents were asked about how many times in a day do devices interrupt their activities with their children, even the mere conversation with them.
In most of the families surveyed for the study, one or several devices disrupted a supposed parent-child bonding activity at some point within the day. The couples were also asked to monitor the number of times that their children sulk or exhibit internalized behavior as compared to acting out or displaying externalized behavior.
The survey found that children are more likely to complain and behave worse than simply brood over their frustrations.
Escaping Kids' Bad Behavior
The study also highlighted that some parents use smartphones to divert their attention away from disappointments felt about parenthood. Instead of addressing their children's mischief by having a meaningful conversation with them, these parents resorted to spending more time with their gadgets. The researchers warned that this might only create a more concerning cycle.
"Parents who have children with more externalizing problems become more stressed, which may lead to their greater withdrawal with technology, which in turn may contribute to more child externalizing problems," said Brandon McDaniel, one of the authors of the study.