Being a Cellphone Parent

How many times do you check your smartphone in the course of an average day?  

While being able to talk, share pictures, or text with virtually anybody in the world has transformed modern life in ways we are just beginning to appreciate, there is definitely a dark side to all this new technology.   Glancing at your phone or tablet screen or answering a phone call often means interrupting whatever task you happen to be doing at the time.   Even though most smartphone users feel confident that they can multi-task effectively, most laboratory studies show the overwhelming majority of people using mobile technology show marked attention problems that can reduce their overall effectiveness.   As one example, it's hardly surprising in fact that most jurisdictions ban mobile technology use when driving given the accident risks that can come from splitting attention between a smartphone screen and keeping one's eyes on the road.   

Smartphones and other digital devices can also disrupt most social activities as well, especially social activities involving face-to-face interactions.   While these interruptions can be relatively trivial for adults, what about when parents or caretakers are interacting with children?   For toddlers learning language skills, the social dyads they form with parents depends on prompt and meaningful communicating.   Along with learning new words, children learn to respond to eye gaze and other forms of non-verbal communication.    Which raises a rather important question: can the kind of disruption that can come from smartphone use interfere with the word learning?

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.



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