Distracted Parents - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Distracted Parents

If you're a parent, there's a good chance something you do out of habit is impacting your children.

A new study finds growing technology and conveniences of a smartphone are negatively affecting your skills as a mom or dad.

Researchers from Boston Medical Center observed interactions between family members, noting in particular the reactions children had when mom or dad were glued to their smartphones.  They found parents tend to ignore their kids and the kids are taking notice.

Parents of 40 of the 55 families observed were absorbed in their mobile devices.  As a result, some children were silent and appeared unaffected, while others tried to get their parent's attention but failing as a result.

"I think you can get to the point where the quality of your interactions with your children can suffer as a result of dependence on a smart phone," said licensed psychologist Dr. Kim Robinson.

Children of parents who are too occupied with the devices can miss out on learning some valuable social skills.

"Part of it is learning how to communicate, how to read people and matching non-verbal and verbal.  If parents are always interacting with technology, how are they going to learn those skills if they're not interacting in the more conventional way?" said Dr. Robinson.

Some Texoma parents agreed smartphones can be a distraction.

"We don't have as much family time as we should.  I think I'm really guilty of that, not spending as much time with my son as I should," said Jessica Jennings, mother of a 7 year old.

In severe cases, children can develop what's known as "attachment disorders".

"If we're not able to have that kind of attachment, children have a great difficulty transferring on to friends and transferring onto mates," said Dr. Robinson.

She said parents need to set a good example and engage with their children especially while eating and before going to sleep because those are the moments children remember most.

"Make those times special.  Interact with your children so they understand there's a time and place for everything," she said.

It's also recommended that parents flip on "airplane mode" on smartphones once a day in order to set up a time to connect and communicate with their kids.

Studies show smartphone use and distraction is more pre-dominant among moms than dads.

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel 6. 

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