Special Report: Distracted Parenting

Special Report: Distracted Parenting Monday on the FOX26 Ten O'clock News

Are you watching your phone more than watching your kids?

There's a new national crisis, caused by smart phones and tablets, but it's not your children we're talking about. It's you.

A new study shows 90 percent of parents say they are on their phones a lot every day.

When your eyes are glued to your phone, they're not watching your children, and as much as you think it's not a big deal, research clearly shows that hyper connected parents are hurting their children in ways that could affect them for years.

Fox26 reporter Tayhana Garcia investigates what causes distracted parenting, and uncovers the serious issues it can cause our children.

Research shows parents are missing out, checking their phones more than 50 times a day and at least 3 times during a simple conversation. There's actually a term for it, "technoreference."

Not only can it be distracting, but it can have long term negative effects, and sometimes those effects are on the people we love the most.

Go to any park in the city and you will notice the same common denominator at all of them; mothers, fathers, or chaperones are not giving their undivided attention to their children because their eyes are on their smart phones.

Dr. Kyle Weir with the Fresno Counseling Family Center said, "You're sending a message to your child that this other message on my phone is more important than you, and that could be real hurtful to the Child. And yet we're not even aware, we kind of Just do it casually or halfheartedly."

With so many messages, calls, work emails, and apps calling your name... the right dose of attention could be taken away from those who need it the most.

Recent studies show that more than 73 percent of parents use their mobile devices while eating with their families.

That's why experts recommend you stow away all your devices and fully engage with what's happening around you.

Dr. Weir said, "Having conscious time where you say, 'You know what, this is family time, this is family night where we play games.' Some people call it media fast."

According to psychologists, distracted parenting can also contribute to children's developmental delays in speech and understanding of what's going on around them. It can also lead to behavioral issues, such as temper tantrums, severe anxiety and resistance to discipline.

Doctor Marilyn Wilson, psychology professor at Fresno State said, "They're demonstrating to their children that the technology, on the iPad or whatever, is more important than their child, giving them that message, and in order to receive attention, they will start to act out."

And no matter where this technology-saturated world tries to lead next, experts stress the importance of limiting its use. Put down the phone and look straight into your children's eyes. Communicate face to face, and do that, before you wake up one day and wonder where all your time has gone.

Experts say you should delay giving your child a smart phone or tablet until they're old enough to handle it, and they say your children will learn how to handle those things mainly by watching how you handle them.

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