Parents, Wired to Distraction

The New York Times:

Every age of parenthood — and parenthood at every age — yields some discouraging metric, some new rating system on which parents can be judged and found wanting. We endlessly jury family dinner rituals, day care and nannies, parents’ readiness to follow schedules, or to ignore the rules and follow their child’s directives. Whatever you are doing is probably wrong. Yes, you, yes, right now. Put down that cellphone and listen to me.

In a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers observed diners in Boston-area fast food restaurants, looking at the new family configuration of adult, child and mobile device. The researchers were trained in anthropological observation techniques, looking in detail at what went on between children and the adults taking care of them (the researchers had no way of knowing if they were parents), with a focus on the adults’ use of devices like smartphones and tablets.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and an author of “Einstein Never Used Flashcards,” has studied use of e-books and other electronics by parents and children and said the lesson of all the studies is that what really matters is the back-and-forth relationship.

“Look for something that’s active, engaging, meaningful and interactive,” she said. “The bad news and the good news is, you can’t outsource learning to an app, but the good news is there’s really room for us, two minutes of time, five minutes of time, look into our children’s eyes, have the conversation.”

Read the whole story: The New York Times

See Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek at the 26th APS Annual Convention.

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