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New Research Suggests That All Distractions Negatively Impact The Quality And Quantity Of Parent-Child Interactions, Not Just Screen Time On Digital Devices

DimaBerlin - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

Humans use technology more now than ever before, and when it comes to parenting, the idea that too much screen time can dampen familial connections and harm child development has been heavily studied.

But, when it comes to parent-child relationships, scientists have introduced a concept known as “technoference,” which refers to how the use of digital devices can disrupt interaction and communication between parents and children.

Still, it remained unclear whether distractions from digital devices are more harmful to parent-child interactions than other sources of parental distractions.

So, a research team from Switzerland set out to investigate this question. They found that while screens do have a detrimental effect on parent-child interactions, they are actually no worse than other types of distractions.

In other words, it appears that distractions in general – rather than screens specifically – are what negatively affect parental communication with toddlers.

“In this study, we show that when parents are distracted, the quality and quantity of parent-child interaction is impaired compared to when parents are not being distracted. This was regardless of if that distraction came from a digital or a non-digital activity,” explained Nevena Dimitrova, the study’s lead investigator.

Again, while the adverse impacts of parents getting distracted by their phones are well-documented, it remained unclear whether the negative effects were tied to screen use specifically or distractions overall.

To get to the bottom of this question, the researchers conducted a study involving 50 parent-child pairs. The children had an average age of 22 months old.

The pairs were asked to spend 10 minutes playing together and were also divided into three different groups. The first group had no disruptions; meanwhile, parents in the second group were provided with a paper questionnaire to fill out after five minutes of play.

DimaBerlin – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual people

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