Sometimes I come across a study with results that are so obvious, I wonder why they bothered to spend the money to do it.
But in some of those cases, I see why it makes sense. Seeing what we suspected as true confirmed in a scientific setting can often help increase public awareness and move the conversation forward.
So it is with a recent study called “Smartphones distract parents from cultivating feelings of connection when spending time with their children.” The authors did a field study where they assigned parents into two groups: one that used their phones infrequently around their kids and the other that used their phones frequently.
Here’s an excerpt from the results:
Frequent phone use led parents to feel more distracted, which in turn impaired feelings of social connection and the meaning that parents derived when spending time with their children. In an additional weeklong diary study (Study 2), we found further evidence that smartphones can distract parents from reaping a sense of social connection when spending time with their children. These studies suggest that being constantly connected to the Internet may carry subtle costs for the fabric of social life.
This is a powerful reminder for all of us who are parents. The more time we spend on smartphones around our kids, the worse our quality of connection with them will be.
I know that if I’m in a rocking chair at age 105, looking back on my life, my connection with my daughter is going to be at the top of the list in terms of what seemed valuable and important in my life, and checking the news, responding to emails, and whatever else I do on the phone would be at the bottom.
Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded of what matters most.
P.S. If you struggle with smartphone addiction—like virtually all of us do—check out Catherine Price’s fantastic book, How to Break Up with Your Phone.