Science Daily | June 2018 | Digital devices during family time could exacerbate bad behavior
Children whose parents spend lots of time on their mobile devices or watching television were found to be more likely to whine, throw tantrums, display more hyperactivity, frustration and sulking. Researchers in the US have labelled this parental behaviour as ‘technoference’ saying it could also impact on their child’s long-term behaviour (Science Daily).
Their study was published in June’s Pediatric Research. The researchers asked 337 parents to answer questionnaires during 2014-16. They were asked if devices interrupted their daily interactions with their children, and to indicate their frequency. Parents reported their child’s internalizing behaviour for instance through sulking, they also reported their externalizing behaviour such as anger of frustration. In addition they also noted their personal level of stress or depression and their child’s screen time and usage. The researchers found for nearly all of the participants, at least one device intruded in the interactions between the parent and their child at some point in the day (Science Daily).
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Full reference: McDaniel, B.T., Radesky, J. S.| 2018 | Technoference: longitudinal associations between parent technology use, parenting stress, and child behavior problems| Pediatric Research| 2018| DOI: 10.1038/s41390-018-0052-6
Background and objectives
Heavy parent digital technology use has been associated with suboptimal parent–child interactions and internalizing/externalizing child behavior, but directionality of associations is unclear. This study aims to investigate longitudinal bidirectional associations between parent technology use and child behavior, and understand whether this is mediated by parenting stress.
Participants included 183 couples with a young child (age 0–5 years, mean = 3.0 years) who completed surveys at baseline, 1, 3 and 6 months. Cross-lagged structural equation models of parent technology interference during parent–child activities, parenting stress, and child externalizing and internalizing behavior were tested.
Controlling for potential confounders, we found that across all time points (1) greater child externalizing behavior predicted greater technology interference, via greater parenting stress; and (2) technology interference often predicted greater externalizing behavior. Although associations between child internalizing behavior and technology interference were relatively weaker, bidirectional associations were more consistent for child withdrawal behaviors.
Our results suggest bidirectional dynamics in which (a) parents, stressed by their child’s difficult behavior, may then withdraw from parent–child interactions with technology and (b) this higher technology use during parent–child interactions may influence externalizing and withdrawal behaviors over time.
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