Parent distraction with phones, reasons for use, and impacts on parenting and child outcomes: A review of the emerging research


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The current article reviews the emerging research related to parent distraction with phones and mobile devices. From this review, it is clear that parent distraction with phones and mobile devices while around children has become common. This is concerning, as the evidence suggests links with parenting and child outcomes—such as lower awareness and sensitivity, fewer verbal and nonverbal interactions, less coordinated parenting and coparenting, dissatisfaction with time spent together, and negative child reactions (e.g., problem behaviors). The issue is complex, however, as many reasons may drive parents to use devices around children, such as strong habits, device notifications, work/social pressures, parenting stress, and boredom or loneliness. Ultimately, parenting is affected due to displacement of time with children, difficulty of multitasking between device and child, and the emotions and stresses that can come from device use. Research gaps are found and future directions are proposed. Most findings come from self-reports or observations. More longitudinal and experimental work is needed to establish causation. Furthermore, as parents and children are concerned about phone use during family time, it is important for evidence-based programs to be developed to address healthy device habits specifically during family time and social interactions.

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Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies

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