WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Life can be filled with daily distractions. But sometimes parents allow digital distractions to keep them from connecting with their children. It’s called technoference. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller Recruited the help of a Jenkins Township family to look at the pitfalls of this problem and to help your family steer clear of technological trouble.
Jeffrey and Marcie Toot and their children 16-year-old Marcus and 10-year-old Stacey rely on their smart phones like just about every other family. But there’s one thing they insist: that the phones get put down at dinner time. “Growing up as a child you sat down for dinner and it was almost like a sacrilege if somebody answered the phone during dinner,” said Mr. Toot.
But researcher say too many families are allowing digital devices to distract not only during dinner time but also playtime and even bedtime by using cell phones and other digital devices instead of bonding with their children. “First the child can feel they’re not being paid any attention to, that they’re being ignored, that they don’t matter,” said Geisinger Pediatrician Karen Ephlin.
Dr. Ephlin says technoference can fuel some bad child behavior. “They can start getting very upset especially younger children. They can start having tantrums trying to get more and more attention.” According to Dr. Ephlin, growing up in a technoference atmosphere can even lead to problems later in adulthood. “They don’t have the skills to be able to deal with disappointments or deal with not getting attention.”
Mr. & Mrs. Toot don’t seem to be too focused on their phones for the most part. Their daughter said, “It’s not very hard to get their attention but sometimes.”
As parents, they try to resist the technological temptation and prevent technoference from becoming their problem. “It’s a distraction for everybody. I think that everyone is missing out on all the little moments,” said Mrs. Toot.
Experts say you can help avoid technoference by putting away the smart phones during dinnertime for 45 minutes or so. Also, put them away at bedtime for even ten minutes to allow for conversation or to read a book to younger children. And don’t let digital devices distract you from your kids’ extra-curricular activities.