It’s easy to become totally absorbed in reading the news or texting, but new research from the Journal of Adolescence says you should think twice about paying more attention to your phone than to your kids when you’re together. The study on more than 800 kids ages 10 to 18 in China found that phubbing (a combo of phone and snubbing) increased adolescents’ risk for depression.
Because many other studies have found that phubbing in other interpersonal relationships can be damaging, the researchers wanted to assess the students’ perceived parental phubbing. The study used statements like “During a typical mealtime with my parents, my parents pull out and check their cell phones” and “My parents place their cell phones where they can see them when we are together.” Kids rated how often those scenarios happened and were then screened for depression.
In a nutshell, both boys and girls who felt phubbed by their parents were more likely to be depressed. The perception is that kids may think their parents consider their phones more important than them.
The simple solution may come from the study participants themselves: In interviews with them, the kids said parents should put down their phones when their children are telling them something, and shouldn’t spend all their free time on the phone. Researchers also suggest establishing family rules for everyone regarding phone use.