Researchers from Boston Medical Center went undercover in 15 local fast food restaurants to observe nature’s parenting playground. Watching silently from a distance, they observed the interactions between family members, noting in particular the reactions children had when mom or dad punched away at the portable keys.
Parents in 40 of the 55 families observed were absorbed in their mobile devices, according to the study. They seemed more distracted when they were typing and making swiping motions with the fingers than when making phone calls. And almost a third of the parents used their devices continuously throughout their meal.
“The conclusion I wouldn’t draw from the study, is that we need to completely remove these devices when we are with our children,” she said. “But it does raise the issue that we need to create boundaries for these devices when we are with our children.” (Dr. Jenny S. Radesky, a fellow in developmental behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.)
“Mealtimes in certain cultures are generally times when children make attachments,” said Beresin, who was not involved in the study. “It’s not a time when one is typically working. (Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of the MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds)
“When we eat, when we snuggle, when a parent puts a child to bed—these are important times when parent-child connectedness is important,” he said. “It sends a message to the child to pay attention to each other, to establish some intimacy.”
Beresin said the advice to parents is simple. “The moral of the story is be observant,” he said. “Be mindful. Be aware. Both in what you are doing and in what you are teaching your children.”
(Photo courtesy of Papaija2008 at .)