Study: Parents on smartphones ignore their kids

Researchers observered parents, caregivers at restaurants

Author: Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 10 2014 04:04:01 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 10 2014 05:00:00 PM EDT

A new study finds many parents and caregivers paying more attention to their smartphone than their kids during restaurant outings.

"When they looked at the caregivers, many of the caregivers were looking at their handheld devices while they were eating and they were not paying attention to their children," explained Cleveland Clinic Children's Pediatrician Dr. Elaine Schulte,  who did not take part in the study.

Boston University researchers spent time observing 55 caregivers at fast food restaurants.  Each had one or more young children.  

They found 40 caregivers used mobile devices during the meal. If they were highly absorbed in the device, the caregiver often responded harshly when their child misbehaved.

Many children also appeared to be testing limits or exhibiting provocative behaviors during the time their caregiver was absorbed in the mobile device.

Schulte says the results should be a lesson to all parents.  

"Children really need that interaction and the best thing for developing minds is to build that relationship where the parent is looking at the child, where the child is looking at the parent, they're engaging in conversation," said Schulte. "It's not a time to withdraw, close-in, and do your own thing."

Read more about the study here.