Does parents' smartphone use affect their children?

Image by Artotem from Flickr Creative Commons
Category: Parents

Smartphone use is affecting the way we communicate with others. Increasingly, you see adults on buses go a whole journey without looking up from their phone. Admittedly, I’ve found myself in that situation from time to time. I’m rarely far from my smartphone. I’ve come to rely on it for everything from checking the weather and news, staying in touch on various social media sites to playing mind numbing games to switch off. Ultimately, I rely on my phone to keep me entertained on long and even short journeys for that matter. Like many other adults, you’ll often find me scrolling through my phone given a few spare moments.

With the way adults communicate changing based on technology, it’s worth taking a minute to think about how this impacts children. If children are living in a world where adults are constantly engaged with their phones, how will this in turn affect children?

If parents were constantly using their phone in front of the children, the children were crankier

This article found that if parents were constantly using their phone in front of the children, the children were crankier. Why? They were desperate to engage with their parents. Interestingly, the study also reports that parents were crankier too and tended to react abruptly when they were interrupted from what they were doing. The article makes a good point about how this can also impact on children’s feeling of self-worth.

Babies and children seek to engage adults. Even newborn babies will use eye contact, cooing and babbling to engage adults. These early interactions for babies and children are key to helping children learn how to have a conversation, understand and relate to people. Simple conversations and spending time together has a massive impact on children’s social and emotional development.

There is no denying that technology is a big part of our lives. Adults rely on smart phones for a variety of reasons. But as the article suggests, it is worth putting boundaries and limitations on their use in place, especially when this impacts on the way we interact with our children.

Do you think that smartphone usage is having an effect on parents' communication with children? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Tracy Cooper

Tracy is Scottish Book Trust's Senior Early Years Trainer.