We know you know this: Tap-tap-tapping away on your phone does not a good parent make. Research has linked distracted parenting to an increase in “bad” behavior by children who resort to increasingly disruptive antics to gain attention. (Forget the fact that checking your email and updates when you’re supposed to be connecting with other humans has huge negative effects on emotional and physical well-being. Read this.)
Solution? Put that phone on vibrate and just focus on the kids. Right?
Not so much. A just-released study says you don’t even need to answer that call, read that text or respond to that notification to experience significant mental distraction. Just a beep or vibration from a downward-facing or pocketed phone is enough to send your brain a-wondering, and your parenting down the primrose path of total distraction. Researchers discovered that “…cellular phone notifications alone significantly disrupted performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants did not directly interact with a mobile device during the task. The magnitude of observed distraction effects was comparable in magnitude to those seen when users actively used a mobile phone, either for voice calls or text messaging.”
Perhaps even more importantly, when parents are tech-obsessed, so are kids. (Not a shocker there.) In a story in today’s New York Times, personal health columnist Jane Brody tracks our iPhone-tapping impact on our “screen-addicted” children. Turns out the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So if you think checking your Twitter account while your child is trying to engage with you is going unnoticed, think again. How’s this quote from the article for a dagger through the heart? One girl among the 1,000 children interviewed about distracted parents said, “I feel like I’m just boring. I’m boring my dad because he will take any text, any call, any time, even on the ski lift.” A 4-year-old called her father’s smartphone a “stupid phone.”