A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Technology allows us to connect to our friends and family around the world, but what is it doing to our relationships at home? A new study is suggesting that our devices are creating a disconnect between parents and kids, something that social scientists have dubbed technoference.  Here are some guidelines for parents to follow when they are physically present with their child, so technology won’t interfere.

Email, text messages, phone calls, social media and keeping up with friends. Technology is good for so many things; however, it can also be distracting.

Family scientist Brandon McDaniel, PhD, of Illinois State University calls this kind of interference, “technoference.”

“It’s a term that deals with the everyday very minor sorts of intrusions, interruptions that our technology devices may illicit,” McDaniel told Ivanhoe.

McDaniel and his team studied 170 families with kids age five years or younger. They asked parents to rate how often they felt cellphones and other devices were intruding on their interactions with their child. They found parents who had a harder time managing their own phone use were more likely to also have technoference occurring in their relationship with their child. Greater technoference was also linked to worse behavior in children.

“Then what we also saw is they were seeing more problem behaviors in their child so their child was more likely to be acting out or hyperactive or crying,” detailed McDaniel.

McDaniel suggests creating tech-free zones or times. These can be when parents are putting their child to bed or during mealtimes. Family members can stack their phones or put them in a basket when entering these zones. Putting these devices away can help ensure that parents are spending quality time with the ones who matter the most.

Another thing McDaniel suggests to parents is to download an app that will track technology use. He says it will allow parents to find out whether they are on their phones more often than they think and could motivate them to change their behavior when it comes to technology use.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Bob Walko, Editor; Roque Correa ,Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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