Technology and Caregiver-Child Interaction: The Effects of Parental Mobile Device Use on Infants
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Despite the increasing prevalence of mobile devices in social settings, little is known about their effect on caregiver-child relationships. This study examines what happens when a caregiver becomes engrossed with a mobile device while in the presence of her infant, creating a divided attention context similar to that demonstrated in Tronick et al.s (1978) Face-to-Face Still-Face paradigm. A modified version of this paradigm was administered to nineteen caregiver-infant dyads in Toronto, resulting in notable similarities in dyadic behaviours to the original paradigm. It was also found that caregivers who used technology more frequently were less sensitive with their infant when absorbed with their mobile phones. Surprisingly, the more attention difficulties that caregivers reported, the more sensitive they were toward their infants, while the better caregivers ability to divide their attention, the less sensitive they were. Caregivers decreased engagement with their infants is worrisome, as caregiver sensitivity predicts childrens socioemotional development.