About one in three parents use their mobile phones almost non-stop while at restaurants with their kids, according to a study by Dr. Jenny Radesky of Boston Medical Center.
“Mobile devices have become such a part of our daily routine, our daily habits, they are with us everywhere,” she said.
A whopping 73 percent of adults they observed used a mobile device during their meal.
“We wrote field notes on what we were seeing, and whether a device was in use or not, when it came out,” Radesky said.
Out of 55 families, they found 16 were totally absorbed.
“This happened when a caregiver brought out the device right away, and used it continuously or frequently throughout the meal,” she said.
She also found when parents were almost constantly on their phones, the kids tended to act out.
“As a pediatrician, I care so much about those parent-child interactions, that’s the foundation of how children learn all different parts of their development,” she said.
Radesky said the study was not designed to solve the cell phone/parenting problem, but instead to create more discussion.
“The biggest question we came away with, that we just felt we were seeing over and over, is whether the device use really is effecting the child-parent interaction, and whether this heavy level of device use is actually leading to more negative or difficult interaction with kids,” she said.
Radesky said she was not telling parents to stop using their cell phones, just not to do so at the cost of healthy family interactions.
She suggested making time to play or talk with your child every day, and when you do connect with your kids, turn off the devices and TVs.
“Maybe there should be a little of unplug time every day when you can just be there and be connected with your kids,” she said.
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