An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be distracting from child-rearing, upending family routines and fueling stress in the home, a small, new study finds. Incoming communication from work, friends and the world at large is "contaminating" family mealtime, bedtime and playtime, said study lead author Dr. Jenny Radesky. She's an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her comments stem from her team's study involving interviews with 35 parents and caregivers of young children in the Boston area. "This tension, this stress, of trying to balance newly emerging technologies with the established patterns and rituals of our lives is extremely common, and was expressed by almost all of our participants," Radesky said. "We have to toggle between what might be stress-inducing or highly cognitively demanding mobile content and responding to our kids' behavior," she said. The result, said Radesky, is often a rise in parent-child tension and overall stress. Modern parents and caregivers interact with tablets, smartphones and other communication devices for about three hours a day, the study authors said in background notes. Radesky's team previously found that when parents used mobile devices during meals they interacted less with their children, and became stressed when children tried to grab their attention away from the device. The new study included 22 mothers, nine fathers and four grandmothers. Participants were between 23 and 55 years old (average age 36) and cared for toddlers or young children up to age 8. Roughly one-third were single parents, and nearly six in 10 were white. On the plus side, many parents said that mobile devices facilitated their ability to work from home. But that could fuel anxiety, too. Some said smartphones provided access to the outside world, and alleviated some of the boredom and stress of child-rearing. On the down side, caregivers described being caught in a tug-of-war between their devices and their children. The study findings were published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
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