We all know this really. When we spend time with our kids and interrupt it to check our phones or tablets, we are signaling to them that they don’t matter. Or matter less than the information on the screen. Even though we are with them in our bodies, our minds are elsewhere. And they know it.

A new early study done at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Illinois State University shows an association between child behavioral problems and heavy use of digital technology by parents. The findings were published in the May 2017 online issue of Child Development.

The study looked at surveys completed separately by both mothers and fathers from 170 two-parent households. Parents answered questions about their use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other technology — and how the devices disrupted family time. Interruptions could be as simple as checking phone messages during mealtime, playtime and routine activities or conversations with their children.

The results suggest that this “technoference” in family life has a negative impact. Even low or seemingly normal amounts of tech-related interruption were associated with greater child behavior problems, such as oversensitivity, hot tempers, hyperactivity and whining. You can learn more about this study here.

More research is needed for sure. But there are many obvious common-sense reasons to turn the devices off and really be with our kids in the little bit of time we have together.

Give it a try and let us know what you notice!