Caregivers Often Absorbed in Mobile Devices During Meals Out with Kids — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 11, 2014

Caregivers Often Absorbed in Mobile Devices During Meals Out with Kids

By Kelly Young

Caregivers frequently use their mobile devices when eating out with children and often become absorbed in the devices, researchers observed in a study in Pediatrics.

Acting like anthropologists, the researchers sat in fast food restaurants and observed 55 anonymous caregivers with children (who appeared to be aged 0 to 10 years). During the course of the meal, 40 caregivers used a mobile device, 16 of whom used it almost continuously.

While the adults were absorbed in their devices, children often engaged in limit-testing behavior. Adults who were paying attention to their devices often responded by first ignoring the behavior and then scolding the child, giving robotic instructions without looking at the child, not addressing the child's needs, or responding physically.

Reader Comments (8)

Eswara Uma Other Healthcare Professional, Dentistry, Dental school

The point made here is that family time has been encroached upon by technology. While technology has improved lives in many ways it has also made us addicted to it. We no longer have family conversations even on outings as we are all stuck to our smart devices. So many babies and toddlers are given smart devices to keep them occupied coz we are too busy with ours.This study is just a wake up call.

BURTON FLETCHER Physician, Internal Medicine, Office

This is not an exclusive "activity" for caregivers with children. It happens in homes where there are two.
The workload of caregivers carries over into what should be private, quiet, unobstructed constructive alone time for a couple as well as those with kids. It is perverse. It is intrusive and destructive.
It's not the giving of care.
And to what end?
Another day spent in the same repeating hell?

Vernon Henning Other, Other

The issue is caregivers, not care consumers. The practice of using mobile devices at meal times rather than being involved with children in a meaningful way translates to other venues as well. People walk in parks pushing strollers with an ear to the phone or texting. The child is simply there.

Dr.PHANENDER KETHA PULMONOLOGIST and Fellow in HIV Medicine Physician, Pulmonary Medicine, VISAKHAPATNAM ,Andhra Pradesh,INDIA

One has to pay attention to the child'behaviour and guide them appropriately . Otherwise our presence with them has no meaning.

Theodore Eckberg, MD Physician, Otolaryngology, Keck school of Medicine, USC, Los Angeles

No surprise to me. I see caregivers walking along a busy street (without sidewalks) in front of my home daily. They push children in strollers and even also have dogs on a leash as they use mobile devices even during heavy traffic. Perhaps we ought to treat it as an addiction.

Dr C.McIlwaine,FRCPC,FRCPE Physician, Internal Medicine, Retired from Nelson Hospital,Nelson,BC,Canada

I had three children(now adult).There is never an excuse for bad behaviour at meal times ,whether at home or outside...Their
errors should be drawn to their attention and if they persist they should go their room if at home ,and have no desserts if outside..

Ryan Biggs Other, Unspecified

Or, its possible that parents lower their standards for mealtime behavior when they're eating at a fast food restaurant. My kids aren't allowed to use devices at the dinner table, but at McDonalds? Whatever. Why bother pretending this is a formal dining experience? The whole reason we're there is because it's fast and easy and I need a break from cooking meals, washing dishes, and enforcing good behavior (eg, parenting).

STEFANIA MANETTI Physician, Pediatrics/Adolescent Medicine, ITALY

a real and frequent problem, and its possible that what happens during meals out probably happens at home. Especially in very young children this can play an important negative role in development

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.