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Distracted Parenting

Distracted Parenting

With 1.4 billion smartphones floating around, it’s clear techno-intensity is making people drop out of conversations, relationships, and their own lives. And it’s not just teenagers or young adults zoning into phones and computers -- parents commit the same offense, too.

On sites like Tumblr’s “parentsonphones,” people are documenting kids starved for parental attention while mom or dad texts or chats without any acknowledgement of the child’s existence. Talk about sending messages!

Recent studies confirm just how careless folks have become with their devices. Researchers discovered 75% of parents engage in distracted behavior, including texting or talking on their cell phone, with kids in the car. And the Journal of Children and Media reports children two and younger are exposed to five-and-a-half hours of background TV a day (Mom’s gotta see her show). That can stunt development of a child’s communication skills. Seems parents, distracted by the show (even if only watching it casually), use fewer words and introduce fewer new words when talking with their children.

What does this all mean? You don’t have to be focused on your child 24/7; that’s helicopter parenting and micromanagement of a kid’s life has its own negative repercussions. But when you’re spending time together, pay attention to your child. Focus on the interaction, talk to your child using descriptive language, and send the message that you are interested in what your offspring is up to. Hugs now?

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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