Posts Tagged ‘screen time’

Connecting with Children in a Smart Phone World

Thursday, February 8th, 2018


Connecting with your child is a concern shared by most parents. Smiles and coos come naturally for so many parents of infants, but there are other points of connection that are more confusing and difficult to master. From feeding times and tummy time in infancy to family time and screen time as children grow, understanding what your child needs in order to feel connected to you overwhelms like a tsunami at times.

One point of connection becoming clear through scientific research has to do with screen time. Not just a child’s screen time, but the parent’s time spent in front of a screen. Dr. Tallie Baram and others, a group of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, demonstrated that “fragmented” parenting leads to negative emotional issues as children develop. Interactions with parents, i.e. smiles, conversations, etc., are necessary for children to develop the ability to enjoy activities and relationships.

Fragmented parenting is a phrase used to describe parents who are frequently distracted from those interactions with children under their care. Dr. Baram theorizes that if children lack the fullness of experience with caregivers at key points in development, they are more likely to engage in unhealthy pleasure seeking activities as  pre-teens and teenagers as well as other developmental setbacks through the years.

Of the distractions that lead to fragmented parenting, smart phone use is the most pervasive. Persistent notifications vie for our attention and have a psychological power all their own. Studies have already shown Facebook “likes” make us “feel better” and have addictive qualities of their own. If you find yourself checking your cell phone frequently, take some time to consider how you can temper your usage when you are with your children.

A few suggestions:

Leave your phone in another room unless you know someone will be calling.

Schedule social media checks or game time infrequently throughout the day, limiting time spent looking at social media and screens.

Inform your friends of your restricted social media use. Many people understand the need to limit time online, so posts like these have become more frequent in the past few years.

Of course these are not the only key in connecting with your kids, but the distractions of smartphones and social media can hold you from building a solid bond. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s well-being you can contact us at 918-745-0095.

Good luck making connections.

Written By Chris Hogue, MA, LMFT


Baram, T., et. al. (2012). Fragmentation and unpredictability of early-life experience in mental disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(9), 907-915.

Vasich, T. (2016). Put the cellphone away! Fragmented baby care can affect brain development. UCI News. Retrieved from