I have heard adults complain a lot about their children being addicted to electronic devices, from cell phones to iPads to laptops and desktop computers. Children seem to be constantly occupied by playing video games, or texting, or watching videos. But, what about parents who are addicted to their cell phones? Studies have found that parents’ cell phone addictions can be detrimental to their children.
There is a very interesting article online at the website for Psychology Today entitled, Turn Off That Smart Phone, Mom and Dad! It is written by Dona Matthews, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist who has also written several books about children and adolescents. The article refers to five research studies which establish the damage that parents can do by being distracted on their cell phones and not paying attention to or communicating responsibly with their children.
According to study #1, “moms on cellphones have children who are more negative and less resilient.” Children up to 2 years old were studied and researchers found them to be more distressed and less willing to explore their environment when their mothers were using cell phones.
According to study #2, “children feel unimportant, and have to compete with smartphones for parents’ attention.” In an international study of 6,000 children ages 8 to 13, researchers found that almost 1/3 felt “unimportant” when their parents were on their cell phones during family times. Over one-half of the children felt that their parents spent too much time on cell phones.
According to study #3, “distracted parental attention harms children’s social/emotional development.” In this study done with rats, researchers found that those rats that were distracted mothers were “less predictable, less reliable, and less attentive (to their pups).” The pups spent less time playing with others and ate less. “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.” The researchers are expanding their study and findings to include humans.
According to study #4, “cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting.” 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.”
According to study #5, “kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely when parents use cellphones.” This study was conducted on 1,000 children ages 4 to 18. The researcher concluded that “parents should think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids. … 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.”
This article also has links to many other articles and studies that establish the negative effects of parents’ cell phone use on their children. The next time you are with your children and decide to answer a call or write a text, please remember that your children need your attention, care and love. If the cell phone communication is not urgent, do not respond. Better yet – turn your cell phone off and give your children your undivided attention!
Read the entire article by clicking here.