Hyper-Connected Parents; Dis Connected Progeny:


Our children are addicted and so are we, that’s the tragic situation of our world in the digital disruption age. We would rather be somewhere else rather than in the present moment, atleast that’s what our indulgence in our screens seems to indicate.

This kind of distraction addiction comes at a huge cost to us and our kids. For adults, it affects our mental health and our productivity. For children, it changes the course of their lives.

Negative behaviors in children stemming from such neglect are temper tantrums, whining, hyperactivity, and becoming angry and upset easily and frequently. It will affect how they feel about themselves, what they think they are capable of doing and how they will begin to value their own precious resource – their attention.

Read on.



What Is Technoference?


Dictionary states, “Technoference refers to the interruptions in interpersonal communication caused by attention paid to personal technological devices. In other words, it’s that thing where you’re looking at your phone or tablet and don’t hear the question your kid or your friend or your mom or your boyfriend asked you.”

Here’s an excerpt from the paper:
Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems By Brandon T. McDaniel, Jenny S. Radesky

Heavy parent digital technology use has been associated with suboptimal parent–child interactions, but no studies examine associations with child behavior. This study investigates whether parental problematic technology use is associated with technology-based interruptions in parent–child interactions, termed “technoference,” and whether technoference is associated with child behavior problems.

The study also found that only 11% of parents claimed to be technoference-free, while 48% of them admitted to everyday interruptions caused by devices in their interactions with their kids. About 40% of the moms and 32% of the fathers reported to having a phone addiction of some kind, such as being unable to stop checking their messages, always worrying about incoming calls or texts, or just feeling like they used their phones too much.

Source: https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cdev.12822



The Still Face Experiment Of The Digital Age:


In 1975, developmental psychologist Edward Tronick showed that after a few minutes of interaction with an expressionless mother, an infant “rapidly sobers… grows wary… and orients his face and body away from his mother with a withdrawn, hopeless facial expression.” To find out about the original Still Face experiment, read more HERE.

This kind of “interaction” is played out in the new 21st Century experiment, where the mother is not having a stone cold face, instead seem distracted with her device. When the mothers are on their devices, the infants became more distressed, explored their environment less and experienced lower emotional recovery when mothers put the screens down.

The study is called: Digital disruption? Maternal mobile device use is related to infant social-emotional functioning By Myruski S, Gulyayeva O, Birk S, Pérez-Edgar K, Buss KA, Dennis-Tiwary TA. Dev Sci. 2017;e12610.

The study states that, “When parents use mobile devices in front of infants, the parent is physically present but most likely distracted and unresponsive. Research using the classic Still Face Paradigm (SFP) suggests that parental withdrawal and unresponsiveness may have negative consequences for children’s social-emotional development.”

Source: https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.126100


The Big Disconnect: 


Excerpts From the book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age By Catherine Steiner-Adair EdD.

“Family creates our first experience of ourselves in the world, and it becomes the foundation of our view of the world,”

“When texting begins to take the place of substantive in-person conversations for any of us, we are training the language and speech centers of our brain for a new, unnatural, and superficial model of connection. When that training starts early, as it does now for young texters, they get so used to it at such a young age that, unlike the newborn baby who innately knows something is missing and complains about it, our older tech-trained children don’t even know what they have lost.”

“In addition to the issue of distracted supervision putting children at risk for injury, at some point distracted, tech-centered parenting can look and feel to a child like having a narcissistic parent or an emotionally absent, psychologically neglectful one. In nonclinical settings, most notably in focus groups in schools around the country, the take-home message I am hearing from children of all ages is this: They feel the disconnect. They can tell when their parents’ attention is on screens or calls and increasingly they are feeling that all the time. It feels “bad and sad” to be ignored. And they are tired of being the “call waiting” in their parents’ lives.”



Maternal Mobile Device Use:


Based on videos of 225 couples eating together, Dr. Jenny Radesky of Michigan University’s medical school found that the quality of interactions between children and their mothers significantly decreased when the mother had her phone out.

The study is called:
Maternal mobile device use during a structured parent-child interaction task
Jenny Radesky, MD, Alison L. Miller, PhD, Katherine L. Rosenblum, PhD, Danielle Appugliese, Niko Kaciroti, PhD, and Julie C. Lumeng, MD

“Time and again we saw less conversation during parents’ tech use. They took longer to respond to their children and there was more conflict with the parents raising their voice, shoving children away and the children trying to escalate their behavior.”

Conclusions Of Their Study:
Mobile device use was common and associated with fewer interactions with children during a structured interaction task, particularly nonverbal interactions and during introduction of an unfamiliar food. More research is needed to understand how device use affects parent-child engagement in naturalistic contexts.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4355325/



How Children Are Voicing Concerns:


When parents are tethered to their personal devices, it makes children wonder if they are too “unimportant” for them. And children around the world have been protesting loudly.

Emil Rustige, a 7 year old from Hamburg, Germany, staged a demonstration in 2018 to get his parents to put down their phones. And lot of people joined him. The slogan for the demonstration: ”Play with ME, not with your cell phones!” Below is the poster of his demonstration. 



This is what happened when a second-grade teacher in Louisiana gave her students an assignment to write about inventions they wish had never happened. Four of the 21 chose smartphones. “I don’t like the phone because my [parents] are on their phone every day,” one wrote. “I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one.” Below is the screenshot of her social media post which is now private. 



Sherry Turkle, the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, tells what a 15 year old boy told her once. “Someday he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school sports events) but the way his parents think they are raising him — with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation.”

Read more HERE



Parents Can Empower Themselves:


See, tech is here to stay. So if we, as adults, are hopelessly losing our self-control over devices that are being engineered for addiction, what will we teach our children? We must realize that our cellphones have become an appendage to our bodies and technology, a mostly uninvited guest, is here to stay.

There are ways in which we can find out if we’re getting distracted addicted by technology in our daily lives. We often reach to our phones when we’re bored or when we’re stressed. Understand if you’re trying to use your phone as a coping mechanism. Discover how you can create tech harmony at home

Awareness is the first step towards empowerment. You can reclaim your productivity by going on a digital diet once in a while. Get started today! 



Cited Works:


Patterns of Mobile Device Use by Caregivers and Children During Meals in Fast Food Restaurants
By Jenny S. Radesky, MD; Caroline J. Kistin, MD MsC; Barry Zuckerman, MD; Katie Nitzberg, BS; Jamie Gross; Margot Kaplan-Sanoff, EdD; Marilyn Augustyn, MD; Michael Silverstein, MD MPH

Digital disruption? Maternal mobile device use is related to infant social-emotional functioning
By Myruski S, Gulyayeva O, Birk S,
Pérez-Edgar K, Buss KA, Dennis-Tiwary TA.
Dev Sci. 2017;e12610.

Maternal mobile device use during a structured parent-child interaction task
Jenny Radesky, MD, Alison L. Miller, PhD, Katherine L. Rosenblum, PhD, Danielle Appugliese, Niko Kaciroti, PhD, and Julie C. Lumeng, MD

Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems
Brandon T. McDaniel, Jenny S. Radesky


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About The Article Author:

Our mission with FutureSTRONG Academy – to grow children who respect themselves, their time and their capabilities in a world where distractions are just a click or a swipe away.

I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté

Write to me or call me. Tell me what support from me looks like. 

Rachana Nadella-Somayajula,
Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents

The Digital Literacy Project: Disrupting humanity’s technology addiction habits one truth at a time.

Truth About Technology – A Digital Literacy Project

Find Out All The Signs Of Technology Addiction

Find Out All The Signs Of Technology Addiction

* Signs Of Something Terrible:   Around the house, and around you, there can be unmistakable signs of tech addiction. You have no interest in what's happening around you. You're lying to yourself about how much you use your phone. The first obvious sign is that...

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