New research published in Pediatrics suggests that when it comes to vying for adult attention at the dining table, American children now have a powerful competitor: the smartphone.
Between July and August of 2013, a total of 55 parent-child groups were anonymously observed while eating at a fast-food restaurant. Meals lasted 10 to about 40 minutes and mostly involved 1 adult with 1 to 3 school-aged kids. Few children used a cellphone but adult habits were all over the map. About 30% had no phone in sight while around 5% had a phone on the table that they never touched. But another 30% used the device almost non-stop throughout the meal. Roughly a third of the adults used their cellphones briefly or intermittently.
Some kids took parental distraction in stride. Others tried mostly in vain to steer some adult attention their way.
Regardless, experts caution that more research is needed to better understand how cellphones truly affect adult-child interactions.
I’m Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news for you and your family.