Screen Time During Family Activities Could Worsen Children’s Bad Behavior


Screen time during family activities could worsen children’s bad behavior and affect their long-term relationships with their parents. A new study shows that parents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones or watching TV in normal activities like meals, playtime, and bedtime can inadequately influence their child’s behavior.

According to the research, this so-called “technoference” can cause changing behavior among children such as frustration, hyperactivity, whining, sulking or tantrums. The research was conducted by Brandon T. McDaniel of Illinois State University and Jenny S. Radesky of the University of Michigan Medical School, both in the US.

Previous studies have found that parents spend an average of nine hours per day watching television or using computers, tablets, and smartphones during meals, playtime, and bedtime. When they are on their digital devices, they have fewer conversations with their children.

In the study conducted between 2014 and 2016, 172 two-parent families (total of 337 parents) with a child age 5 years or younger were asked to answer online questionnaires about parenting and family relationships. In this new research, parents, and children evidenced how often various devices interrupted their conversations or activities with their children every day. The results show that screen time during family activities could exacerbate bad behavior.

“These results support the idea that relationships between parent technoference and child externalizing behavior are transactional and influence each other over time,” McDaniel explains. “In other words, parents who have children with more externalizing problems become more stressed, which may lead to their greater withdrawal with technology, which in turn may contribute to more child externalizing problems.”