Parent’s Smartphone Use Can Affect Kids' Behavior

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 15, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Could your smartphone prompt a toddler tantrum? Perhaps, a new study suggests.

Young children whose parents interrupt family time by pulling out their smartphones or tablets appear more prone to misbehaviors, such as whining, sulking and tantrums, the research revealed.

Study author Brandon McDaniel coined the term "technoference" about five years ago when researching technology's intrusion into face-to-face interactions and relationships. His new findings on kids and parents reinforce established research focusing on technology's effects on child development.

"Do you like it when you feel snubbed by someone, when that person isn't validating or listening to you?" asked McDaniel. He's an assistant professor of human development and family science at Illinois State University.

"It's the same thing with kids, but since they're not adults, the way they show it is probably by acting out a little more," he added. "Most parents really love their children, but it's hard for a child to feel that if you're staring at your phone."

A lot of research has looked at technology's impact on children's routines. Kids between ages 8 and 18 spend about 7.5 hours per day using a screen -- whether TV, computer, cellphone or another device -- for entertainment, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But this study included surveys from 168 mothers and 165 fathers of young children from 170 two-parent households. The researchers asked parents about their use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other technology, and how the devices disrupted family time.

Technoference could include checking phone messages during meals, playtime or routine activities with their children.

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