A parent’s use of tech in front of their kids linked to behavioral problems, says a study coming out of two United States universities.
The University of Michigan alongside Illinois State University conducted a study of 170 two-parent families to find out whether a parents’ use of technology impacts their children’s behavior.
Their findings may surprise lots of phone-loving moms and dads.
A Parent’s Use of Tech May Lead to Problems for Kids
Researchers watched as parents used their phones and tablets around their children and noted what happened as a result. They counted how many times a child whined, misbehaved, or threw a temper tantrum while mom and dad were on their phones.
What they discovered is that even a low, or what some consider to be a ‘normal’ amount of technology use by parents, often resulted in behavioral problems in their children.
It’s interesting that almost 50% of the parents included in the research readily admitted their phones do in fact take their attention away from their kids at least three times a day.
The researchers found that when parents are on their phones, repeatedly checking text messages and scrolling Facebook, they aren’t engaged with their children. Seems pretty easy to understand. It’s hard to give kids the attention they require and deserve when we parents are paying attention to the computers we hold in our hands.
As a result, kids can really suffer. They may feel anxious and sad and act out. For those children who were already wrestling with behavioral problems, the study revealed something more.
A parent’s use of tech can make things worse.
Turns out the moms and dads of struggling kids generally use their phones a lot more In front of their children. Some explained it by honestly admitting they are on their phone so much to relieve the stress of having a child who can be a real handful.
It’s understandable. Sometimes a quick mental escape from reality offers up the strength to keep fighting the good fight. A cute puppy video is a great stress-reliever.
A parent’s use of tech can easily become a slippery slope.
We love our phones because they aren’t just phones anymore. They can virtually take us wherever we want to go in the world and we can see whatever we wish to see.
We can learn how to bake a cake, buy a peanut butter dispenser, and plan a family trip, all in the span of a few minutes. What phones cannot do is raise happy, healthy, loving and responsible adults. That’s on us.
Many folks today have FOMO… fear of missing out. When we don’t check our phone constantly, we don’t know who said what and to whom on Twitter. We might not see the photos of our friends’ puppy or come across the perfect meme to share.
What parents should do.
One of the best things you can do for your child is to put your phone down whenever you can. Put it somewhere that makes it difficult to even be tempted to pick it up. Make the dinner table a technology-free zone.
As parents, it’s our job to find smart, effective ways to teach our kids about the proper and safe use of technology. A large part of that is practicing what we preach.
We have to demonstrate by example how phones and tablets can be a part of life without having them actually take over lives.
Just 11% of the parents told these researchers that they keep tech put away while they’re spending time with their kids. (Really put away. Not working in a quick glance at text messages). Let’s do our best to make that percentage rise.
Kids will feel more loved and valued and let’s face it. Curbing our phone use can only be a good thing for our own mental health. What do you think?