Parents feel guilty using cellphone while kids play: Study

Washington: If you spend a lot of time taking calls or texting friends while watching a game your kid is playing, the experience can actually make you feel guilty, says a new study.

Cellphone use at playgrounds is a significant source of parental guilt, as well as a powerful distraction when children try to get caregivers’ attention, the researchers noted.

“Concerns on this topic are very prevalent, and a lot of people report feeling guilty about their own behaviours,” said lead author Alexis Hiniker, doctoral student at University of Washington.

Among 466 adult caregivers studied, the largest group of parents, nannies and adult babysitters 44 percent felt they ought to restrict cellphone use while watching children at playgrounds but felt guilty for failing to live up to those ideals, the researchers found.

They also observed that caregivers absorbed in their phones were much less attentive to children’s requests as comapred to their chatting with friends or caring for other children.

The most common cellphones on playgrounds were texting with friends and family, taking pictures and emailing. The study documented more than 40 hours of interactions at US playgrounds and collected data from 466 adult caregivers.

The researchers found that boredom often trumped guilt or fear of being judged and was the single biggest driver prompting people to dig cellphones out of their pockets or purses.

The findings were presented recently at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2015 conference in Seoul, South Korea.

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