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Parents on smartphones damage their children’s ability to relate

However, if the mother or father have a listless look – for example because they are constantly ignoring the child because of the cell phone – then babies as young as four months start to avoid the view.

The BLIKK media study showed: If the media consumption is strikingly high among parents, feeding and falling asleep disorders in babies are far more common – a first indication of a binding disorder.

“Infants need to be close to their parents and make eye contact. This is irreplaceable, among other things, to help build basic trust, ”says an expert.

A young mother looks at her cell phone in the S-Bahn, while her baby in the stroller looks in vain. In the playground, parents sit on the bench and are busy with their cell phones instead of looking at the three-year-old who applauds them from the slide. In the fast food restaurant, a toddler is sitting on the high chair and would like to give Papa a crushed french fry if it weren’t absorbed by the cell phone. These are everyday scenes, unfortunately normal.

According to experts, the consequences for the development and loyalty of young children are significant. In the so-called still face experiment, for example, researchers asked the mother to stop reacting to her baby with a suddenly petrified face. The result: The babies got very stressed and tried to get the mother’s attention again by kicking, waving their arms and finally crying.

“A constant look at the smartphone could trigger similar reactions. Infants could resign because the liveliness of the facial expressions is missing and the smartphone is permanently geared towards it, ”write Swiss researchers, including Agnes von Wyl, in the essay“ The view of the infant – disturbed by smartphones? ”

Von Wyl is doing research at the Zurich University of Applied Psychology (ZHAW) and has just completed a study entitled “Smart Start” to support this hypothesis. “The main question is whether the smartphone use of the parents has an impact on the parent-child interaction and thus on the development of the child – especially the bond,” she says. According to her, the data is currently being evaluated and the first results will be published in the next few weeks. The Smart.Baby study, which deals with a similar topic, was started at the Early Life Care Institute in Salzburg.

The adult caregiver is there physically, but not mentally

Otherwise, it looks like studies with the scientist Sabina Pauen mau. But one thing is clear for the developmental psychologist at Heidelberg University: “If the child has a secure bond, they always look for contact,” she says. However, if the mother or father have a listless look – for example because they are mentally ill or are constantly ignoring the child because of the cell phone – then at the age of four months you can see that these children are avoiding the view. “They learn, ‘It’s uncomfortable if the mother doesn’t look back, so I prefer not to look,’” explains the researcher. “Even very small children then resign.”

Till Reckert, pediatrician and media officer in the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) sees it similarly. “The young children experience something that they presumably do not understand: the adult caregiver is there physically, but not mentally.” In his own words, he has “worries when the generation who are used to cell phones very early today become parents.” the cell phone has “grown”, the more it hinders the presence necessary for the child rearing of the next generation.

The BLIKK media study presented in May 2017 already warned: “If the media consumption of children or parents is strikingly high, pediatricians will find abnormalities that are well above average.” care for the baby – a first indication of a binding disorder.

“Children who grow up far from the media can do something with the smallest things”

The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) recommends that children up to three years of age have no access to screen media at all – “I would definitely agree,” says BVKJ expert Reckert. In his practice, he observes small patients who show strenuous, disorganized behavior and are hard to deal with. “But children who grow up a little further away from the media can do something with the smallest things,” he says.

Parent bashing is far from Reckert. He doesn’t think much of posters such as “Have you already played with your child today?” That the Stuttgart Ministry of Social Affairs presented last year. This stigmatizes parents and is not helpful. However, it is problematic if parents use a smartphone to immobilize their child. Even small children are literally bewitched by the device. “It’s easy to handle. But it is not good for them. ”

Possible consequences: impaired concentration, lack of empathy, deficits in attention development

Rainer Riedel, Director of the Institute for Medical Economics and Medical Health Services Research in Cologne and co-author of the BLIKK study, also emphasizes: “Infants need to be close to their parents and keep them in touch. This is irreplaceable, among other things, to build up basic trust, ”he says. “The ubiquitous access to digital media is the largest in vivo experiment that has ever taken place. We currently don’t know how that could affect us humans in 20 or 30 years. ”

What to do? “The topic is totally underestimated, we absolutely need clarification,” says Pauen. Like Riedel, she also suggests that expectant parents are made aware of the issue by gynecologists and midwives during pregnancy. Otherwise, the children may later experience poor concentration, lack of empathy or deficits in developing attention. “And only when it’s too late will the parents come to the pediatrician.”


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