Study Finds That Parenting Skills Suffer When Parents Use Screens to Unwind
by Ashley Dreiling
Have you ever been to a restaurant where every member of the family in the next booth is on a screen? Parents are glued to their phones, kids are playing video games, and no one is speaking to one another. A lot about this scenario is alarming, but a new study has found that parent screen time, specifically those who use tech to relax, is associated with poor parenting.
The results came from 549 questionnaires given to parents with at least two children between the ages of 5 and 18. Parents who used screens to unwind experienced more psychological stress and reported poor parenting behavior such as yelling, nagging, and saying hurtful things to their kids.
“When kids are showing difficult behaviors, parents might use technology to withdraw. And when you’re more absorbed in media, you might have stronger, less patient reactions to your children,” says Jasmine Zhang, lead study author and a graduate student researcher in the Whole Family Lab at the University of Waterloo.
Zhang says not all technology consumption is connected to bad parenting, but moms and dads should beware of media use that their attention away from direct interaction with their children. Parents who use screens to maintain social connections are more positive, present, and available to their kids.
As with most aspects of parenting (and life in general), it’s about trying to maintain balance. Use your screens but not to the detriment of your children. If you find yourself displaying absent or troublesome behaviors with your kids, it’s time to look for new non-tech ways to relax.