A new U.S. study has revealed that parents who are constantly checking their phones for texts, emails, and puppy videos are potentially more likely to have children who misbehave than parents who step away from their devices.
The leader of the study, Brandon McDaniel of Illinois State University, examined survey data from 168 mothers and 165 fathers from two-parent households and found that parents who reported being distracted by technology during playtime were also likely to experience behavioral problems with their kids.
McDaniel said, “Prior studies have shown us that some parents can be quite absorbed by their devices and that when they are absorbed, it seems like it is difficult for children to get their attention.” He continued “What is especially new here is that even minor, everyday intrusions of technology that are likely happening to all of us that have and use smartphones can begin to influence our children’s behavior.”
The survey asked the parents how often smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other technology interrupted family time with distractions like checking phone messages during meals or answering texts in the middle of conversations. They were also asked to rate how often they worried about checking calls or texts and whether they thought they used their devices too much.
Approximately 48% of parents reported experiencing technology interruptions at least three times a day, 24 percent said this happened twice a day, 17 percent said it occurred once daily, and only 11 percent said technology never interrupted. The researchers also asked parents to rate the frequency of their children’s behavioral issues within the past two months. They did this by answering questions about how often their kids whined, sulked, had tantrums or showed signs of hyperactivity.
After accounting for other factors that can influence kids behavior -such as parent income and education level and other family, dynamics-researchers found a direct association between parents’ belief that their technology use was disruptive and parents reporting behavioral issues like tantrums, whining or hyperactivity.
Parents worried about how technology disrupts their family time can easily try to carve out periods of each day when the devices power down and go away. This is a time they can focus only on their kids. Children crave an innate connection to their parents and learn from their parents’ behaviors, so it’s no wonder that constantly checking your phone is going to have an adverse impact on this priceless connection.