Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Resources
Basic Information
Development During Early Childhood, Toddler, and Preschool Stages Parenting Your Todder, Preschooler, and Young ChildToilet TrainingDisciplining Your Toddler, Preschooler, and Young ChildNurturing Your Toddler, Preschooler, and Young Child
Latest News
Are Kids' Playgrounds Really Safe?Make Those School Lunches More NutritiousHealth Tip: Create a Reading-Friendly HomeOld-Fashioned Play Beats Digital Toys for Kids, Pediatricians SayCould Young Age at School Start Lead to False Diagnosis of ADHD?Health Tip: Prevent Temper TantrumsBringing Baby in a Lyft, Uber? Child Car Seats Are Rarely IncludedHealth Tip: Ease Separation AnxietySoft Furniture No Cushion Against Falls for Young KidsWhat Kids -- and Parents -- Fear Most at the Doctor's OfficeSkip the Cold Meds for Kids Under 6, Experts SayPath to Obesity May Start in PreschoolHealth Tip: Help Your Child Deal With Night TerrorsParents Fret Over Fussy Eaters - but What Works?Talking to Baby Might Boost Middle School SuccessHealth Tip: Promote Play for Your ChildEarly Eye Checks for Kids a Smart MovePediatricians Make Change to Child Car Seat GuidelinesHealth Tip: Pool Fencing Helps Prevent DrowningHealth Tip: Manage the Terrible 3'sHealth Tip: Your Toddler Can Be a VegetarianKids' Play Is Healthy, Pediatricians' Group SaysGive Your Child a Head Start With MathPicture This -- It Makes Kids Eat More VeggiesPreschoolers' Parents May Be Unprepared to Treat AsthmaHealth Tip: When Small Children Play Near WaterHealth Tip: Ear Tubes May Help Prevent Ear InfectionsDim the Lights to Help Your Child Fall AsleepAre You Car Seat Savvy?Many Young Kids Not Screened for Developmental DelaysA-C-T to Prevent Hot Car TragediesLook Before Locking: Protect Your Child From a Hot Car Tragedy25 U.S. Kids Treated in ERs Every Hour for Bike InjuriesSmartphone-Obsessed Parents May Mean Cranky KidsPediatricians Say No to SpankingNo Safety Concerns With DTaP Combo Vaccine for Kids: StudyCan Excess Weight in Toddlers Cause Brain Drain?Health Tip: How to Help Your Child Develop Healthy RelationshipsMany Parents Miss Speech Disorders in Young KidsCuriosity a Plus in the Classroom, Particularly for Poorer KidsSimple Drug Packaging Change Could Save Toddlers' LivesHealth Tip: Prevent Hand, Foot and Mouth DiseaseMultiple Anesthesia Exposures Affect Learning and AttentionHealth Tip: Milestones to Look for by Age 5Anesthesia Doesn't Seem to Harm Child's IQ: StudyE-Cig Liquid Remains a Poisoning Danger to Young KidsHealth Tip: Prevent Poisoning at HomeHeath Tip; How to Introduce Your Child to PeanutsVideo Games May Be OK for Toddlers -- If Mom or Dad Join InEven Toddlers Endangered by Opioids, Other Addictive Drugs
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

Smartphone-Obsessed Parents May Mean Cranky Kids

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 20th 2018

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, June 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who take refuge in their smartphones when their kids throw a tantrum may, in the long run, make matters worse, a new study suggests.

The study, of 183 couples with young children, found that stressed-out parents often turned to their electronic devices when dealing with their kids. And when that was a pattern, their kids' behavior typically worsened over the next several months.

Researchers said the findings do not prove smartphones are to blame.

But they also said the study raises concerns about what some researchers call "technoference" -- where parents are less present for their children because digital devices are constantly vying for their attention.

"Young children can be hard to 'read' as it is," said researcher Dr. Jenny Radesky. "It's really difficult to read them when you're distracted by something else. In general, when you're toggling between different things, you're not as good at any of them."

Children, in turn, get frustrated when mom and dad appear to be withdrawing from them into a device. "They may learn that they have to act out to get attention," said Radesky, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, in Ann Arbor.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean smartphones and other devices are the root of the problem, according to Yamalis Diaz, a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, in New York City.

Parents who are having trouble managing their children's behavior -- for various reasons -- may be the ones most likely to constantly check their phones, said Diaz, who was not involved in the study.

Device use, she explained, may be a "symptom" of a broader issue.

That said, there are reasons to be concerned about today's mobile technology.

Parents have long turned to media -- a TV show or a book -- to get a break from their kids, Radesky said.

But mobile devices can interfere with parent-child interactions anytime, anywhere. Plus, they are simply more absorbing than books or TV, because they "contain your whole life," Radesky added.

"It's your email, it's your work, it's the news," she said. "There are social demands, because you're expected to be responsive to other people on social media."

Diaz agreed that the pull of mobile technology is an issue. "We are concerned about decreased quality in parent-child interactions because of technology use -- in both parents and kids," she said.

But it's not just that life demands are forcing parents to be on their phones: As the study suggests, many parents may use devices as a buffer against parenting stress.

If you're home all day with the kids, Radesky said, it can be a relief to "see what's going on in the adult world."

However, Diaz said, if parents are habitually "hiding in their phones" because of stress, they need to figure out the true source of that stress.

The study, published online recently in the journal Pediatric Research, involved couples with a child younger than 6. Parents were surveyed three times over six months about their device use during time with their kids; levels of parenting stress; and whether their children had behavioral issues like restlessness, being easily frustrated, or throwing temper tantrums.

Almost all parents said their device use interrupted time with their kids at least once a day, the researchers found.

In general, the study found, parents were more stressed when their kids had more behavior problems. Those stressed parents were more likely to use devices during family time. And parents' device use, in turn, was linked to worsening behavioral problems over time.

It's not that parents need to ditch their phones, or be "100 percent responsive" to their kids all the time, according to Radesky. But having device-free family time each day is crucial.

Diaz agreed. "Have some concentrated, quality time together to show your child that you're present and responsive," she advised.

It's also wise, Radesky said, to "build some self-awareness" around your device use: For example, keep track of how much time you spend on phones and computers -- since it can be easy to lose yourself for an hour or more.

Radesky also suggested thinking about the types of content that stress you out, or can make you irritable with your kids -- whether that's work emails, social media or reading the news. Then try avoiding those "triggers" when your kids need your attention.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advice on family media use.