Study: Smartphones distract parents from kids


(CBS Local) – For many, smartphones have become more important to their daily lives than their own keys or wallet. A new study on how the cellphone obsession is affecting parents claims that smartphones are preventing mothers and fathers from connecting with their children.

Kostadin Kushlev from the University of Virginia says her experiments on how smartphone use affects parenting shows a clear disconnect when the adults are preoccupied with their phone. “As enticing and useful as they might be, smartphones can make spending time with your children feel less meaningful than it would otherwise be,” the psychology researcher told PsyPost.

Kushlev and Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia observed 200 parents and their children during a trip to a Canadian museum. Parents who were asked to use their smartphones as much as possible during the trip reported feeling less attentive and socially connected at the museum.

The researchers also studied the daily diaries of 292 parents who were asked to record their smartphone usage for a week. The parents reportedly admitted to feeling less connected with their children while using a mobile device and believed it undermined the attention they gave their kids.

“We found much larger negative effects in the context of a fun experience—spending time with your children at a science museum—than in parents’ daily life,” Kushlev added.

The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, added that there was a connection between how fun a certain activity with their children was and how tempted the parents were to go back to their phones. The more “rewarding” the outside environment was, the more likely parents were to keep their smartphone in their pocket.

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