In the 1990 movie "Problem Child," Ben Healy (John Ritter) and his wife Flo (Amy Yasbeck) don't know that Junior (Michael Oliver), the cute 7-year-old they adopted, had previously been returned to the orphanage dozens of times because of behavioral problems.
Then one day Junior drives the family car into the family sporting-goods store.
Is there an underlying cause for Junior's problem behavior? Yup — he was repeatedly placed with families who ignored his needs and treated him badly.
We thought of that dark comedy because of a new study that examined a link between parents who ignore their kids out of preference for a hand-held device and their child's problematic behavior.
Researchers examined survey data on 170 two-parent U.S. families with kids of average age 3. It revealed 48 percent of moms and dads said meal- or playtimes with their children were interrupted by digital devices three or more times daily; 24 percent, twice a day.
Only 11 percent reported no techno-interruptions during family time.
The data also revealed how often their kids whined, sulked, showed signs of hyperactivity, were irritable or became easily frustrated.
Putting the two together, the researchers concluded, "Technological interruptions, even at low levels, are associated with child problem behaviors."
So if you find yourself saying, "Hey, I'm on the phone" or don't hear what your child is saying because you're so focused on texting, you might consider the fact that YOU are the cause of your child's attention-demanding behaviors.
So please, put the phone down.
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