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The DISRUPT: A measure of parent distraction with phones and mobile devices and associations with depression, stress, and parenting quality

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The landscape of modern parenting has shifted as an increasing number of parents have and utilize smartphones and other mobile devices throughout the day. A validated measure of parent distraction with these devices is needed in the field. It is important to have a validated measure of parent distraction with mobile devices (e.g., phubbing, technoference), as this distraction can be common at times and could negatively impact the quality of parenting that children receive. In the current study, I developed a brief, parent-reported survey measure of parent distraction (DISRUPT), examined its reliability and validity (convergent, divergent) in two survey studies (Study 1, n = 473 parents; Study 2, n = 294 parents), and examined its usefulness in predicting parenting quality (predictive validity). Overall, the results provide initial support for the DISRUPT as a valid and reliable measure of parent problematic tendencies with their phone or mobile devices during time they spend with their children. The DISRUPT’s items loaded together well and were internally consistent, and scores were associated with technology use (e.g., problematic phone use) and well-being variables (e.g., depression, stress) in the expected directions. Results also revealed the measure to be useful, as scores predicted parenting-related variables over and above other technology use variables. The DISRUPT also functioned as a mediator in a conceptual model of depression and parenting stress predicting parent distraction (DISRUPT) which then predicted parenting quality.
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PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 1
The DISRUPT: A measure of parent distraction with phones and mobile devices and
associations with depression, stress, and parenting quality
Brandon T. McDaniel
Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation
Submitted: December 23, 2020
Revision Submitted: April 28, 2021
May be cited as:
McDaniel, B. T. (2021). The DISRUPT: A measure of parent distraction with phones and
mobile devices and associations with depression, stress, and parenting quality. Human
Behavior and Emerging Technologies. doi: 10.1002/hbe2.267
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ABSTRACT
The landscape of modern parenting has shifted as an increasing number of parents have
and utilize smartphones and other mobile devices throughout the day. A validated measure of
parent distraction with these devices is needed in the field. It is important to have a validated
measure of parent distraction with mobile devices (e.g., phubbing, technoference), as this
distraction can be common at times and could negatively impact the quality of parenting that
children receive. In the current study, I developed a brief, parent-reported survey measure of
parent distraction (DISRUPT), examined its reliability and validity (convergent, divergent) in
two survey studies (Study 1, n = 473 parents; Study 2, n = 294 parents), and examined its
usefulness in predicting parenting quality (predictive validity). Overall, the results provide initial
support for the DISRUPT as a valid and reliable measure of parent problematic tendencies with
their phone or mobile devices during time they spend with their children. The DISRUPT’s items
loaded together well and were internally consistent, and scores were associated with technology
use (e.g., problematic phone use) and well-being variables (e.g., depression, stress) in the
expected directions. Results also revealed the measure to be useful, as scores predicted
parenting-related variables over and above other technology use variables. The DISRUPT also
functioned as a mediator in a conceptual model of depression and parenting stress predicting
parent distraction (DISRUPT) which then predicted parenting quality.
Keywords: Phubbing; Technoference; Mobile phone; Parent-child relationship; Parenting; Phone
distraction; Smartphone addiction; Smartphone use; Problematic phone use; Parenting stress
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The DISRUPT: A measure of parent distraction with phones and mobile devices and
associations with depression, stress, and parenting quality
The landscape of modern parenting has shifted as an increasing number of parents have
and utilize smartphones and other mobile devices throughout the day (Pew Research Center,
2019; Rainie & Zickuhr, 2015). Researchers have begun to examine reasons for parent phone use
as well as potential impacts of this use on their children (McDaniel, 2019; Radesky et al., 2016;
Wolfers, 2020). Yet, a validated measure of parent distraction with these devices is needed in the
field. It is important to have a validated measure of parent distraction with mobile devices, as this
distraction can be common at times and could negatively impact the quality of parenting that
children receive (e.g., Hiniker et al., 2015; McDaniel & Coyne, 2016b; Radesky et al., 2014). In
the current study, I developed a brief, parent-reported survey measure of parent distraction,
examined its reliability and validity in two survey studies, and examined its usefulness in
predicting parenting quality.
Survey Measures of Parent Device Distraction
Although I will not review all of the literature on parent phone use (for a review see
McDaniel, 2019), I will highlight here how parent distraction with phones or mobile devices has
been measured via survey research. One line of research has focused on technoference, or
intrusions and interruptions due to technology in face-to-face interactions (McDaniel & Coyne,
2016a). These measures tend to ask parents to rate how many times on a typical day various
devices (e.g., phones, computers, tablets) interrupt parent-child activities or interactions
(McDaniel & Radesky 2018a; 2018b; Sundqvist et al., 2020). Others ask these questions but
refer to specific contexts, such as coparenting interactions (McDaniel & Coyne, 2016b) or play,
mealtimes, bedtime, and so forth (McDaniel & Coyne, 2016b; Newsham et al., 2018), and ask on
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a more general scale such as “never” to “very often. These measures however ask parents to
recall the frequency of these instances which could be difficult for a parent to recall, may be
biased toward only remembering the most salientand perhaps most negativetimes this
occurred, or instances may be misremembered or not perceived by the parent at all. Indeed, we
know from other research that parents often cannot accurately recall the amount of their phone
use (Yuan et al., 2019). Moreover, these measures focus solely on the “interruptions” that parents
notice. It is also possible to be cognitively distracted or focused on device use without displaying
the physical behavior of picking up the device, which instances are likely not assessed by these
technoference measures. In fact, research has found that parents who struggle with more
problematic tendencies and thoughts about their device use rate more frequent technoference in
parent-child interactions (McDaniel & Radesky, 2018a; Newsham et al., 2018). Technoference is
only one aspect of parent distraction with mobile devices, and therefore a more general measure
of parent distraction is needed.
Another line of research has focused on maternal distraction specifically during infant
feeding. In this work, researchers have had mothers of infants keep feeding diaries where they
record what else they were doing during the feedings (Golen & Ventura, 2015; Ventura &
Teitelbaum, 2017). Although this type of measurement is useful, it is quite intensive and not
always easily incorporated into studies of parent device use, not to mention it focuses only on
mothers of infants.
Recently, a promising measure of parent distraction was published, the Maternal
Distraction Questionnaire (Ventura et al., 2020). This measure asks mothers to rate how much
they engaged in certain technology-related activities (e.g., watch TV, talk on phone) first on
items referring to infant feeding times and second on items referring to time spent with their
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infant (excluding feeding times). Again though, this focuses on mothers of infants and also on
the feeding context, so a more generalized measure is needed that can more readily apply to
parents of children of all ages. Additionally, this measure focuses on specific actions (such as
using a computer or talking on a phone) and the frequency of these actions. As stated earlier, it
can be difficult for parents to remember the frequency of these actions, especially since use
occurs intermittently throughout the day (Yuan et al., 2019). Therefore, a measure that examines
parents’ general feelings as opposed to specific frequencies could prove useful. Finally, if one is
attempting to assess the impacts of phone/mobile device use, then a measure that does not also
include other technology devices is necessary.
Some have had children or adolescents rate their parent’s device distraction (e.g.,
Stockdale et al., 2018). I do not review this literature here though as my purposes were to
develop a measure that was parent-reported. Moreover, it was my desire that the measure could
be used in samples of parents with children of all ages, and very young children may not be
accurate reporters of parent device use or able to complete assessments due to their age.
The present measure, the DISRUPT (Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent
Technology), is a 4-item measure intended to examine parents’ tendencies toward problematic
phone use during times they spend with their child. Problematic phone use has been measured in
a variety of studies and deals with issues surrounding cognitive and behavioral struggles with
device use (Augner & Hacker, 2012; Bianchi & Phillips, 2005; Hadlington, 2015; McDaniel &
Radesky, 2018a; McDaniel et al., 2018; Pavia et al., 2016; Takao et al., 2009). The DISRUPT
therefore has items that are related to components of behavioral addiction (Billieux et al., 2015),
such as cognitive salience (e.g., thinking about the device) and loss of control (e.g., having
trouble staying away from the device). The current measure is unique from general measures of
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problematic phone use as its items are specifically pointed toward phone use during time spent
with their child, instead of focusing on phone use in general. To be clear, this measure is not
intended to measure or diagnose phone addiction, nor is it intended to be a comprehensive
measure of all aspects of problematic phone use. Instead, it is intended as a brief measure that
can easily fit into most studies and can help to identify parents who may be struggling with
phone use around their child. The DISRUPT is presented in the Measures section, and I examine
its reliability, validity, and usefulness in the two studies in this article.
A Model of Parent Distraction with Mobile Devices and Impacts on Parenting Quality
Although there are many reasons parents may utilize their phones during parenting, such
as to connect with others, to seek information, and to reduce or escape stress (e.g., Radesky et al.,
2016; Torres et al., 2021; Wolfers, 2020), I propose that two key variables are parent depression
and stress, and depression and stress can lead to greater parent distraction with mobile devices.
Moreover, greater distraction would negatively impact the quality of parenting that children
receive (see Figure 1 for the conceptual model). Prior research has shown that many individuals
form a strong connection to their device, as if it were an extension of the self (Belk, 2013;
Campbell & Park, 2008; Carbonell, Oberst, & Beranuy, 2013; Srivastava, 2005). Coinciding
with this work and focusing specifically on parents, Radesky et al. (2016) interviewed parents
about their device use and found that many parents expressed feeling emotionally connected to
their device and using the device as a way to escape negative emotional experiences. Researchers
have shown significant associations between depressive symptoms and greater problematic
phone use in adults in general (Augner & Hacker, 2012; Demirci et al., 2015; Elhai et al., 2017;
Takao et al., 2009) and also specifically in mothers (Newsham et al., 2018). Research on parents
has also repeatedly shown associations between greater depressive symptoms and parent ratings
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of greater distraction with devices during parent-child time (McDaniel & Coyne, 2016b;
McDaniel & Radesky, 2018a; 2018b; Newsham et al., 2018). Newsham et al. (2018) found that
depressive symptoms were related to greater maternal technology use during parent-child
playtime. Much of this work is cross-sectional. However, a recent study utilized passive sensing
methods (i.e., an app continuously measuring phone use) and daily time diaries across 5 days and
found that mothers utilized their phone for a greater amount of time in the presence of their
children on days when they felt more depressed as compared to days when they felt less
depressed (McDaniel, 2021). In all, this research suggests that parents who are more depressed
would be more likely to engage in or withdraw into phone use during parent-child time.
Moreover, stress is common in daily parenting experiences, as parents manage their
children’s behavior and other difficulties. Again, parents at times withdraw into device use to
escape or avoid this stress and child behavior (Radesky et al., 2016). In fact, some have indicated
pretending to be on their device to not have to interact or deal with children in the moment
(Oduor et al., 2016). Longitudinal research has shown parenting stress to be associated with
increases in technoference (parent-rated technology interruptions in parent-child interactions)
over time, and the authors argue that this increase is likely due to parents withdrawing into their
devices to escape the stresses of childrearing (McDaniel & Radesky, 2018b). Radesky et al.
(2018) also found that mothers with more difficult children used their phone more during
observed mealtime interactions as compared with other mothers. Similar to Radesky et al.
(2016), Wolfers (2020) also found that parents turn to their phones when faced with stress, and
the phone use may serve a variety of purposes (e.g., to obtain information, as a distraction, to
seek support). Yet, the effectiveness of this phone use on reducing or mitigating this stress still
needs to be investigated by future research. McDaniel (2020) explains that there may be “times
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when device use is effective and helpful to the parent. For instance, a parent does not know what
to do in that parenting moment and had a trusted friend who they can call,” but engaging in
passive use (such as scrolling through social media) or avoiding life stress may be linked with
worse well-being over time. Torres et al. (2021) recently found that parents who used their
phones to escape parenting stress felt more guilty about this phone use as compared to parents
who used their phones for other reasons during stressful parenting experiences. Overall, stress
and phone use appear to be intricately tied in parents. Furthermore, although it is possible that
specific kinds of coping utilizing phone use could assist parents with their emotional state,
connectedness to the outside world, and so forth, unfortunately, we also see that phone use
during parent-child interaction can influence the quality of parenting behavior and parent-child
interactions (e.g., McDaniel, 2019).
If parents become cognitively and behaviorally distracted with their mobile devices, then
it is possible that parenting quality could suffer. Parents express difficulty multitasking between
their device use and their children (Radesky et al., 2016), and this could decrease the timeliness
of parent responses to child needs as well as the overall quality of these responses. Observational
research has shown fewer verbal responses, delayed responses, and at times harsher responses to
children’s bids for attention when a parent is using their phone (Abels et al., 2018; Davidovitch
et al., 2018; Hiniker et al., 2015; Kellershohn et al., 2018; Reed et al., 2017; Radesky et al.,
2014; 2015). Moreover, these effects appear to be for parents with children of all ages. For
example, mothers interact less often with their infant during feeding if they are simultaneously
using a device (Golen & Ventura, 2015; Nakagawa et al., 2019; Ventura et al., 2019), while
adolescents express that their parents are less warm in their parenting when parents are also
using devices (Stockdale et al., 2018). It clear that children need an engaged and caring adult in
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their life. Therefore, if phone and mobile device use become so cognitively and/or behaviorally
salient that the use begins to negatively impact parenting, children and child development could
suffer over timemaking it important to have a valid measure of parent distraction with mobile
devices as well as to seek to understand the associations between parent phone use and family,
parent, and child outcomes.
The Current Study
In the current work, I developed the DISRUPT, a 4-item measure intended to examine
parents’ tendencies toward problematic phone use during times they spend with their child. I
examined this measure in two separate samples of parents with children of varying ages (Study 1
ages 0 to 18 years, and Study 2 ages 3 to 6). I sought to:
(1) Establish the factor structure of the measure via exploratory factor analysis, which high
factor loadings of all items on a single factor would indicate homogeneity (Heale &
Twycross, 2015), or that the measure indeed measures a single construct.
(2) Establish the initial reliability of the measure by computing the Cronbach’s alpha across
the 4 items. The Cronbach’s alpha is a measure of the internal consistency of the items, or
that “all the items in a test measure the same concept or construct” (Tavakol & Dennick,
2011). A higher alpha score is also indicative of good homogeneity.
(3) Establish the convergent validity of the measure by examining associations with other
variables that should be similar to this variable (Widaman et al., 2011). Therefore,
associations between the DISRUPT and other technology use measures (e.g., frequency
of phone use, problematic phone use) were examined.
(4) Establish the divergent validity of the measure by examining associations with variables
that should not be highly similar to the DISRUPT (Widaman et al., 2011). In this study,
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associations between the DISRUPT and parenting/well-being measures were examined
(e.g., depression, parenting quality). Although it was expected that the DISRUPT would
still be associated with parenting and well-being measures (see the above literature
review and conceptual model), if the DISRUPT is truly measuring problematic phone use
around their children, then problematic phone use and the frequency of phone use around
their child should show larger correlations with the DISRUPT than depression, parenting
stress, and parenting quality. In other words, parenting/well-being measures should be
less similar than those specific technology-related measures with the DISRUPT.
(5) Establish the predictive validity of the measure, or ability of the DISRUPT to predict
theoretically linked and important variables (Widaman et al., 2011), by (a) examining the
ability of the measure to predict parenting-related variables over and above general phone
use and general problematic use, and by (b) examining the measure in the conceptual
model presented previously (see Figure 1).
METHOD
Participants and Procedures
In Study 1, an online survey was conducted, and participants were recruited via Amazon
Mechanical Turk. Participants were informed that the survey was about relationships, and to be
included participants had to live in the U.S., be in a romantic relationship of 6 months or longer,
live with the romantic partner, and speak English. In this sample, 648 parents responded. For the
current study, I limited this sample to those parents whose child or children were all 18 years old
or younger, leaving a sample of 585 parents. Of these 585, 476 had technology use data.
Furthermore, of these 476, 2 did not respond with their gender and only 1 did not identify as
male or female, which left us with a final parent sample of 473. In comparing the final analytic
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sample (n = 473) to those parents who had missing data and were not included (n = 109), those
in the analytic sample were younger, t (580) = 2.67, p < .01. They did not differ on income,
education, number of children in the home, or child age. Thus, Study 1 specifically included
parents with a wide age range of children (ages 0 to 18 years).
In the final analytic sample of 473 parents for Study 1, 319 were mothers and 154 were
fathers. Parents were 35.95 years old (SD = 7.72) on average. Median family income was
$60,000 (SD = $42,816), 79% were Caucasian, 93% reported a heterosexual sexual orientation,
and 66% had an Associates degree or higher. In terms of relationship status, 78.6% were
married, 9.7% were engaged, and 11.6% were dating. Parents reported that the oldest child in
their family was on average 8.80 years old (SD = 5.21; Range 0 to 18 years), and 62% had more
than one child in the home. Parents were from the following U.S. regions: 43.3% South, 21.8%
West, 21.1% Midwest, 12.9% Northeast, and 0.8% Alaska or Hawaii.
In Study 2, an online survey was conducted, and participants were recruited via Amazon
Mechanical Turk. Participants were informed that the survey was about parenting, and to be
included participants had to live in the U.S., be a parent of a child age 3 to 6 years, live with their
child, and speak English. The sample included 296 parents. As the number of participants who
did not identify as male or female was limited (n = 2), I focused the analyses on 294 parents (176
mothers and 118 fathers). Thus, Study 2 specifically focused on parents experiences with
younger children specifically (ages 3 to 6 years).
In the final analytic sample of 294 parents for Study 2, parents were 33.10 years old (SD
= 6.94) on average. Median family income was $55,000 (SD = $43,088), 76% were Caucasian,
87% reported a heterosexual sexual orientation, and 76% had an Associate’s degree or higher. In
terms of relationship status, 71.8% were married, 10.5% were engaged, 12.6% were dating, and
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5.1% were unknown. The target child in the study was 4.25 years old (SD = 1.17; Range 3 to 6
years; 57% male), and 55% had more than one child in the home. Parents were from the
following U.S. regions: 40.5% South, 25.9% West, 19.4% Midwest, 13.3% Northeast, and 1.0%
Alaska or Hawaii.
Measures
I now present the measures for both studies. Measures were included in both studies,
unless I specifically mention that it was only measured in one study. Descriptive statistics and
Cronbach’s alphas are reported in Table 1. To establish convergent validity with the DISRUPT, I
measured constructs that were similar or related to the DISRUPT; these included the general
frequency of phone use, general problematic phone use, frequency of phone use during time
spent with child, and technoference in the couple relationship. To establish divergent validity
with the DISRUPT, I measured constructs that should not be as strongly associated with the
measure as problematic use or frequency of use around their child; these included depression,
parenting stress, and parenting quality. Finally, in other models (i.e., regression, SEM), the
DISRUPT was associated with parenting variables (i.e., parenting stress and parenting quality) to
establish predictive validity.
DISRUPT. The DISRUPT (Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent
Technology) measure is presented in the Appendix. Factor analysis and reliability results are
presented in the Results. See the Introduction for more details on the development of this
measure. Overall, the measure consists of 4 items (e.g., “During time I spend with my child, I
find it difficult to stay away from checking my phone or mobile device”), and parents rate how
much they agree with each item on a 6-point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 6
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(Strongly agree). Based on the factor analysis, the four items were averaged to produce an
overall DISRUPT score for each parent.
General frequency of phone use. Parents responded to 4 items regarding their time
spent on general mobile device use on a typical day, including “making calls on cellphone,” “text
on cellphone,” “use social networking sites,” and “play games on phone or mobile device.” Scale
points ranged from 0 (none) to 8 (5 or more hours). Items were averaged to produce an overall
score.
General problematic phone use (Study 1 only). Parents responded to an established 5-
item problematic phone use measure, the Mobile Problem Use Scale (MPUS; Phillips et al.,
2012). An example item includes “I find myself using my mobile phone for longer periods of
time than I intended.” Items were averaged to produce an overall score.
Frequency of phone use during time spent with child (Study 2 only). Parents rated a
single item, “While at home, how frequently do you get on your phone or mobile device during
time you spend with your child?” on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (Never) to 5 (Almost
always).
Technoference in couple relationship (Study 1 only). Parents responded to an
established 6-item technoference measure (TILES; McDaniel & Coyne, 2016a; McDaniel et al.,
2018) that examines how frequently technology intrudes upon or interrupts their face-to-face
interactions in their couple relationship. An example item includes “My partner sends texts or
emails to others during our face-to-face conversations.” Parents responded on an 8-point scale
ranging from 0 (Never) to 7 (10 or more times a day). Items were averaged to produce an overall
score.
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Depression. Parents responded to an established 7-item measure of depressive symptoms
(CES-D-SF; Levine, 2013) that asks about symptoms during the past week, such as “I felt
depressed” and “I felt everything I did was an effort.” Parents responded on a 4-point scale
ranging from 0 (Rarely or none of the time less than 1 day) to 3 (Most or all of the time 5 to 7
days). Items were averaged to produce an overall score.
Parenting stress. Parents responded to 3-item measure of parenting stress. An example
item is “Raising my children frequently causes problems” (Van den Troost et al., 2005). Items
were on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree). Items were
averaged to produce an overall score.
Parenting quality. Parents responded to 5 items measuring overreactive parenting
behaviors from the Parenting Scale (Arnold et al., 1993) where parents respond concerning how
closely various behaviors describe how the participant is as a parent. Each item has a stem, such
as “When my child misbehaves,” and then scale anchors that are specific to each item stem—for
example, “I raise my voice or yell” on one side and “I speak to my child calmly” on the other
side. The center scale point is “Neutral” (5), and as scale points move closer to either anchor the
parent is indicating that that particular anchor (such as “I raise my voice or yell”) more closely
describes their parenting. In other words, selecting the scale point “1” would represent that the
anchor “I speak to my child calmly” “Very closely describes” their parenting, while selecting a
scale point “9” would represent that the anchor “I raise my voice or yell” “Very closely
describes their parenting. The 5 items were averaged to produce an overall overreactive
parenting score with higher scores indicating greater overreactive parenting.
RESULTS
Initial Construct Validity: Factor Structure and Reliability of the DISRUPT
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An exploratory factor analysis revealed a single-factor solution accounting for 74.69% of
the variance in Study 1 and 74.04% in Study 2 with all 4 items loading in the range of .80 to .89
(see Table 2). Thus, the four items were averaged to produce an overall DISRUPT score for each
parent. Then, Cronbach’s alpha was utilized to examine the reliability of the measure. The
internal consistency of the items was good (Study 1 Cronbach’s alpha = .88 for mothers, .90 for
fathers; Study 2 Cronbach’s alpha = .91 for mothers, .83 for fathers). The high factor loadings
and internal consistency are indicative that the scale measures a single, consistent construct.
DISRUPT Measure Descriptives
DISRUPT scores showed a relatively normal distribution, scores were represented on the
entire range (1 to 6), and skewness and kurtosis were in the acceptable ranges. In Study 1,
skewness was 0.13 and kurtosis was -0.94. In Study 2, skewness was -0.31 and kurtosis was -
0.68. Overall, 38% in Study 1 and 53% in Study 2 had mean scores of 3.5 or higher, indicating
that they at least somewhat agree that they struggle with these problematic tendencies during
time they spend with their child. Mean scores are reported in Table 1. T-tests revealed no
significant mean differences between mothers and fathers on their DISRUPT scores. As children
require different levels of attention and have different needs at various ages, I examined
associations with child age. Greater child age was associated with lower DISRUPT scores in
Study 1 (r = -0.23, p < .001) and in Study 2 (r = -0.13, p < .05).
Convergent and Divergent Validity: Associations with Technology Use, Parenting, and
Well-being Measures
Associations between the DISRUPT and these other measures are presented in Table 3.
First, as child age in Study 1 ranged from 0 to 18 years, I examined whether correlations in Study
1 were significantly different when the sample was split into those whose child or children were
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all age 5 or younger and those whose child or children were all age 6 or older (i.e.,
infant/preschool versus school-aged). No significant differences were observed, so correlations
are not broken down by child age in Table 3. As would be expected if the DISRUPT truly
measured what it purports to measure, the DISRUPT was significantly and moderately
associated with general phone use, problematic phone use, phone use around the child, and
technoference in relationships. This is indicative of convergent validity.
Finally, also as expected, the DISRUPT was moderately associated with depression,
parenting stress, and worse parenting quality. However, problematic phone use and frequency of
phone use around their child generally showed larger correlations with the DISRUPT than
depression, parenting stress, and parenting quality (see Table 3). This indicates divergent validity
(i.e., the DISRUPT measures the construct, rather than simply measuring parent well-being).
Predictive Validity: Predicting Parenting-related Variables, Over Phone Use and
Problematic Use
I ran two regression models in the Study 1 data and two regression models in the Study 2
data, one predicting parenting stress and the other predicting parenting overreactivity. Parent age,
income, gender, and child age were controlled. Interactions with child age and parent gender
were also tested. The purpose of these models was to examine the utility (predictive validity) of
the DISRUPT in predicting parenting-related variables over and above other technology use
variables (i.e., general phone use, problematic phone use, and phone use around child).
Therefore, the technology use variables were also entered into the models. Standardized betas are
presented in Tables 4 and 5. Overall, higher DISRUPT scores predicted greater parenting stress
and overreactivity, showing predictive validity even after controlling for other technology use
variables.
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Model of Parent Distraction with Mobile Devices and Parenting Quality
Utilizing the Study 1 data (as this had the largest sample with the greatest range of child
ages), I ran a path model in Mplus 8.4 representing the conceptual model of parent distraction
with mobile devices and possible impacts on parenting quality (see Figure 1). I also controlled
for parent gender, age, income, and child age. The model fit the data well, χ² (17) = 30.26, p =
.02; RMSEA = .04; CFI = .95; SRMR = .04. Standardized beta estimates are presented in Figure
1. Overall, the conceptual model was supported, with greater depression and parenting stress
predicting higher DISRUPT scores, and higher DISRUPT scores predicting more overreactive
parenting. I also examined whether there were indirect effects on overreactive parenting from
depression and parenting stress through the DISRUPT. I utilized 2,000 bootstrapped samples in
Mplus which produced the bias corrected confidence intervals for these effects (Shrout & Bolger,
2002). Both indirect effects were significant (ps < .01).
DISCUSSION
Overall, the results provide initial support for the DISRUPT as a valid and reliable
measure of parent problematic tendencies with their phone or mobile devices during time they
spend with their children. The DISRUPT’s items loaded together well and were internally
consistent (demonstrating some initial construct validity and reliability), and scores were
associated with technology use and well-being variables in the expected directions (convergent
and divergent validity). Results also revealed the measure to be useful, as scores predicted
parenting-related variables over and above other technology use variables (predictive validity),
and the DISRUPT functioned as a mediator in the conceptual model predicting parenting quality.
As the DISRUPT is meant to capture issues related to the cognitive salience surrounding
the device, it would be expected that having one’s mind frequently wandering to the device
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 18
would create greater distraction from high quality parenting than simply using the device on
occasion around one’s child. This aligns well with what some other researchers have defined as
“absorption” (Radesky et al., 2014), where greater impacts on parenting behavior, missed child
cues, and child outcomes are seen for those parents that are more cognitively absorbed in the
device use (Linder et al., 2021; Radesky et al., 2014). Indeed, this is what the results revealed, as
DISRUPT scores were more strongly associated with parenting quality than the general
frequency of phone use or phone use around the child.
Additionally, the DISRUPT proved to be useful over and above a general measure of
problematic phone use at predicting parenting-related variables. This was expected if the
measure was functioning properly, as DISRUPT scores should represent the degree to which
problematic cognitive and behavioral struggles with device use have permeated parent-child
time. In other words, the DISRUPT although related to general problematic use should be more
proximal and more closely tied to parenting-related outcomes as compared with general
problematic use. For example, it is possible that some individuals struggle with device use
outside of the parenting context but do not struggle with device use during parenting or time
spent with their child (or vice versa). The DISRUPT therefore better captures those parents who
struggle with their device use and thoughts of their device specifically during parenting.
Moreover, the conceptual model of depression and parenting stress feeding into
problematic phone use around their child which would then impact parenting quality was
supported. The DISRUPT acted as a mediator between depression and parenting stress and the
outcome of parenting quality, as results revealed significant indirect effects via the DISRUPT.
Overall, all the paths in this model are supported by prior research. Depression has been linked
with greater device use and greater problematic device use (Augner & Hacker, 2012; Demirci et
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 19
al., 2015; Elhai et al., 2017; Newsham et al., 2018; Takao et al., 2009) and greater parent device
use during parent-child time (McDaniel, 2021; McDaniel & Coyne, 2016b; McDaniel &
Radesky, 2018a; 2018b; Newsham et al., 2018). Parenting stress has been linked with parent
device use and greater technoference, or technological interruptions, during parent-child time
(McDaniel & Radesky, 2018b; Oduor et al., 2016; Radesky et al., 2016; 2018), and some initial
research has shown links with greater device use during parenting and more negative parenting
behavior or altogether missed child cues and needs (McDaniel, 2019). This conceptual model
should be further tested in more diverse samples of parents as well as longitudinally to better
understand the micro (moment-to-moment) and macro (months, years) processes and changes
that take place in parent well-being, phone use, and parenting over time. Yet, understanding that
parents who struggle with depression or who are particularly stressed in parenting or by their
children are also more at risk of potentially developing problematic phone use habits around their
children suggests that interventions designed around improving technology habits in the
parenting context should understand that many parents utilize their devices to cope with the
stresses of parenting. Additionally, the fact that parenting quality was worse among those with
greater DISRUPT scores suggests that parenting interventions cannot ignore the potential
impacts of parent device use and should teach effective coping strategies both on and off screens
and how to manage their use around their children to both accomplish their parental needs for
connection, information, and coping while simultaneously remembering the emotional needs of
their children.
The current results lend further weight to previous research and suggest that children
whose parents struggle with the cognitive salience of their device during parent-child time may
also be those children who experience poorer parenting quality. This is concerning as device
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 20
distractions have become commonplace during parenting and family relationships (McDaniel,
2019), and strong device habits and tendencies could develop over time which could potentially
become problematic unless parents are mindful of their use; it is possible that even those who are
mindful of their use could also fall into problematic use, where the device becomes a salient part
of their thoughts. Indeed, many individuals express feeling they could not live without their
device or feeling anxious without their device (Bragazzi & Del Puente, 2014; Smith, 2015;
Yildirim & Correia, 2015). Parents have expressed feeling very connected to their device and
utilizing their device to manage their emotions and stressors during parenting situations
(Radesky et al., 2016). This use may at times be helpful (e.g., McDaniel, 2020; Radesky et al.,
2016; Wolfers, 2020), but if there becomes an overreliance on the device it could lead to
distracted or disrupted parenting (McDaniel, 2020).
This work is not without limitations. Although the proper associations appeared, the
current work is correlational in nature and may also contain single-reporter bias. Due to the
cross-sectional and correlational nature of the current work, it is also possible that those parents
who engage in more overreactive behaviors may also be those who are more likely to struggle
with phone use around their child, as opposed to distraction with phone use causing worse
parenting quality. More than likely this process is bidirectional (e.g., McDaniel & Radesky,
2018b). Struggling parents (e.g., those with greater depression, stress, less sensitivity to child
needs) may be more likely to engage in phone use around their child; yet, due to the possible
disruptions and distractions frequent phone use can produce during parent-child time I would
also expect phone use to influence parenting quality, at least in small ways, even among high-
functioning parents. The DISRUPT was intended to be a brief measure that could easily fit into
most studies, but this brevity also means that the DISRUPT does not measure all aspects of
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 21
parent device use and struggles. As the data was self-report, it also is not known how the
measure connects to actual phone use or behaviors in real-time. Future work with passively
measured phone use (via an app on the parent’s phone) or video-recorded naturalistic
observations of home life could help to better understand how the measure performs compared to
actual use and behavior. However, the DISRUPT does not purport to measure the frequency of
use. Instead, it assesses attitudes and cognitions. In the current study, the measure was associated
with self-reports of greater phone use. Finally, it is likely that mothers and fathers differ in terms
of their overall involvement with children (as mothers are often the primary caregivers in the
U.S.). Yet, the DISRUPT measure focuses specifically on those times when a parent is around
their child. In other words, it should be tested in the future whether the prevalence of parent
phone use might have different implications for children’s well-being depending on the overall
level of parent involvement.
In conclusion, the results provide initial support for the DISRUPT as a valid and reliable
measure of parent problematic tendencies with their phone or mobile devices during time they
spend with their children. Results also revealed the measure to be useful, as scores predicted
parenting-related variables over and above other technology use variables (i.e., predictive
validity) and the DISRUPT functioned as a mediator in the conceptual model predicting
parenting quality. The DISRUPT shows promise for being used in future research on parents,
mobile device use, and distraction from parenting and parent-child interactions.
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 22
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PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 29
Table 1. Descriptive statistics for study variables
DISRUPT
Problematic
phone use
Freq. of
phone use
around
child
Technoference
in couple
relationship
Depression
Parenting
stress
Parenting
overreactivity
Study 1 - Fathers
Mean
2.70
4.69
--
2.77
0.66
3.74
3.83
Std. Dev.
1.25
2.31
--
1.70
0.71
1.66
1.75
Cronbach's alpha
0.90
0.90
--
0.92
0.90
0.85
0.85
Study 1 - Mothers
Mean
2.91
5.32
--
2.63
0.73
3.59
3.66
Std. Dev.
1.27
2.40
--
1.73
0.67
1.62
1.64
Cronbach's alpha
0.88
0.86
--
0.91
0.88
0.85
0.79
Study 2 - Fathers
Mean
3.31
--
2.54
--
0.91
3.71
4.04
Std. Dev.
1.10
--
0.95
--
0.67
1.45
1.61
Cronbach's alpha
0.83
--
--
--
0.87
0.81
0.84
Study 2 - Mothers
Mean
3.34
--
2.56
--
0.83
3.99
4.12
Std. Dev.
1.30
--
0.91
--
0.73
1.54
1.68
Cronbach's alpha
0.91
--
--
--
0.90
0.84
0.80
Note: -- represents this was not measured in that particular study.
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 30
Table 2. Factor loadings for the DISRUPT items
Item
Study 1
Study 2
During time I spend with my child…
1. I find myself thinking about what I could be doing on or messages/notifications I might receive
on my phone or mobile device.
0.80
0.85
2. I find it difficult to stay away from checking my phone or mobile device.
0.89
0.87
3. I feel like I use my phone or other mobile device too much.
0.89
0.87
4. There are times that I could play with or interact with my child, but I am on my phone or mobile
device instead.
0.88
0.86
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 31
Table 3. Correlations between DISRUPT score and other measures
Freq. of
phone
use
Problematic
phone use
Freq. of
phone use
around
child
Technoference
in couple
relationship
Depression
Parenting
stress
Parenting
overreactivity
Fathers
STUDY 1 - Child age 0 to 18 (n = 154)
.55*** a
.58***
--
.52*** b
.35***
.38***
.21** d
STUDY 2 - Child age 3 to 6 (n = 118)
.34***
--
.52***
--
.38***
.59*** e
.26**
Mothers
STUDY 1 - Child age 0 to 18 (n = 319)
.27*** a
.58***
--
.32*** b
.24***
.37***
.37*** d
STUDY 2 - Child age 3 to 6 (n = 176)
.22**
--
.56***
--
.26***
.32*** e
.25***
Note: ***p < .001, **p < .01. Matching superscripts denote those correlations that are significantly different between mothers and fathers
within a study (p < .05). Superscript d is p = .076.
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 32
Table 4. Study 1 Regression models predicting parenting-related variables with
DISRUPT versus other technology measures
Model 1
Model 2
Parenting
stress
Parent
overreactivity
β
β
Controls
Parent age
.02
.02
Income
.00
.04
Parent gender
.09*
.04
Child age
.01
.00
Tech variables
Freq. of phone use
.03
.05
Problematic phone use
.09*
-.04
DISRUPT
.30***
.33***
DISRUPT x Gender
--
--
DISRUPT x Child age
--
--
DISRUPT x Gender x Child age
--
--
F-value
12.75***
7.69***
R-square
0.16
0.09
Note: ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05. A dash (--) marks interactions that were
tested but removed as they were not significant. Gender was coded as 1 =
father, 0 = mother. Income is in $1,000 units. Standardized betas are reported.
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 33
Table 5. Study 2 Regression models predicting parenting-related variables with
DISRUPT versus other technology measures
Model 1
Model 2
Parenting
stress
Parent
overreactivity
β
β
Controls
Parent age
.09
-.04
Income
-.10
-.06
Parent gender
-.10
-.01
Child age
.01
-.06
Tech variables
Freq. of phone use
.01
.00
Freq. of phone use around child
.07
.09
DISRUPT
.31***
.21**
DISRUPT x Gender
.16*
--
F-value
9.71***
3.43**
R-square
0.22
0.08
Note: ***p < .001, **p < .01, *p < .05. A dash (--) marks interactions that were
tested but removed as they were not significant. Gender was coded as 1 =
father, 0 = mother. Income is in $1,000 units. Standardized betas are reported.
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 34
.15**
.31***
.30***
.31***
Figure 1. Model of depression and parenting stress predicting parent problematic use of mobile devices during parent-child time
(DISRUPT) which then predicts parenting quality. The figure shows the standardized estimates. Parent gender, age, family
income, and child age were included as control variables; any non-significant control variable paths were removed from the final
model. The model fit the data well (χ² (17) = 30.26, p = .02; RMSEA = .04; CFI = .95; SRMR = .04).
Depression
Parenting
stress
Overreactive
parenting
DISRUPT
PARENT DISTRACTION WITH PHONES 35
Appendix
Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent Technology
(DISRUPT)
Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements.
Strongly
disagree
Disagree
Somewhat
disagree
Somewhat
agree
Agree
Strongly
agree
1
2
3
4
5
6
During time I spend with my child...
1. ... I find myself thinking about what I could be doing on or messages/notifications I might
receive on my phone or mobile device.
2. ... I find it difficult to stay away from checking my phone or mobile device.
3. ... I feel like I use my phone or other mobile device too much.
4. ... there are times that I could play with or interact with my child, but I am on my phone or
mobile device instead.
... On the positive side, parents' technology use can help parents regulate their emotions; access support; and develop more empathy, acceptance, and compassion for themselves and their children (e.g., McDaniel 2020b; Radesky et al. 2016;Torres et al. 2021;Wolfers 2021)-which are all key aspects of mindful parenting. Yet, parents' technology use also has the potential to create distractions and disrupt parent-child interactions (e.g., McDaniel 2019McDaniel , 2021Radesky 2018a, 2018b), which may make it more difficult for parents to listen with full attention, maintain awareness of their and their child's emotions, and calmly respond to child behaviors with intentionality. Parents' technology use can also create more opportunities for social comparisons and judgement (e.g., Coyne et al. 2017), making it more difficult for parents to accept their children nonjudgmentally and have compassion for their children as they are. ...
... Parents have expressed using their mobile devices during parenting and the time they spend with their child (McDaniel and Coyne 2016;Radesky 2018a, 2018b), and these devices can be used by parents for a variety of purposes throughout the day, such as to seek parenting information, to connect with others or seek support, to relieve stress or boredom, and much more (Radesky et al. 2016;Torres et al. 2021;Wolfers 2021). Therefore, device use has the potential to influence parent well-being, their emotional state, and the quality of parenting in both positive and negative ways (e.g., Abels et al. 2018;Davidovitch et al. 2018;Hiniker et al. 2015;Kellershohn et al. 2018;McDaniel 2021;Radesky et al. 2014Radesky et al. , 2015Radesky et al. , 2016Reed et al. 2017;Torres et al. 2021). ...
... Thus, on the one hand, technology use through mobile devices might help parents improve their internal and external resources (Belsky 1984) by helping them regulate their emotions, obtain support, and gain information that may help them develop acceptance and compassion for self and child (e.g., McDaniel 2020b; Radesky et al. 2016;Torres et al. 2021;Wolfers 2021). On the other hand, technology use through mobile devices might deplete parents' resources by creating distractions, limiting attention, and might create stress due to increased levels of social comparison, making it harder to maintain nonjudgement and compassion (e.g., Coyne et al. 2017;McDaniel 2019McDaniel , 2021McDaniel and Radesky 2018b). Thus, technology use has the potential to both help and hinder mindful parenting, with positive and negative implications for parents and their children. ...
Article
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Popular media attention and scientific research in both mindful parenting and technology use in the context of parenting has expanded in the 21st century; however, these two streams of research have largely evolved separately from one another. Thus, in this conceptual paper, we integrate the research on mindful parenting with that on parents’ technology use and parenting to examine how parent technology use may impact or be linked with aspects of mindful parenting. Mindful parenting theory outlines five key components: listening with full attention, self-regulation in the parent–child relationship, emotional awareness of self and child, nonjudgmental acceptance of self and child, and compassion for self and child. Parent technology use, in particular the use of mobile devices, has the potential to impact all five elements of mindful parenting. However, the relationship between mindful parenting and technology is complex, and there can be both positive and negative implications of parent technology use on mindful parenting. On the positive side, technology use might help parents regulate their emotions; access support; and develop more empathy, acceptance, and compassion for themselves and their children. Yet, parent technology use also has the potential to create distractions and disrupt parent–child interactions, which may make it more difficult for parents to listen with full attention, maintain awareness of their own and their child’s emotions, and calmly respond to child behaviors with intentionality. Technology use may also create more opportunities for social comparisons and judgement, making it more difficult for parents to accept their children nonjudgmentally and have compassion for their children as they are. Future research is needed to understand the conditions under which technology use can hinder or promote mindful parenting and how interventions can promote mindful parenting skills and a positive uses of technology.
... Such technology-based interruptions in parent-child interactions are associated with less than optimal patterns of cognitive and socioemotional development Radesky, 2018a, 2018b;Sundqvist et al., 2020;Wong et al., 2020). Recent studies show that parent-related factors such as depressive symptoms and parenting stress are related to the frequency of technology-based interruptions and parents' problematic use of mobile technology (e.g., feeling an urge to check their mobile phones; McDaniel and Radesky, 2018b;McDaniel, 2021;Newsham et al., 2020). It has been suggested that parents may turn to their mobile devices as a mechanism for coping with stress (Radesky et al., 2016;Torres et al., 2021;Wolfers, 2021). ...
... Our findings suggest that parents' problematic smartphone use should be considered as a risk factor for the quality of parent-child interactions, which play a crucial role in the development of children's cognitive and socioemotional skills (e.g., Bornstein and Tamis-LeMonda, 2001;Connell and Prinz, 2002;Hoff, 2003;Kochanska and Murray, 2000;Tamis-LeMonda et al., 2014). In previous studies, parents reporting higher stress due to the demands of child-rearing also reported experiencing more technology-based interruptions in the interactions with their children (McDaniel and Radesky, 2018b) and using mobile technology more problematically (McDaniel, 2021). Our results extend these findings and show that not only parents' perceived stress related to child-rearing but also other sources of stress such as time management and relationship with the partner are related to parental use of mobile technology and parent-child interaction quality. ...
... Similar to previous studies demonstrating relations between problematic mobile device use and parenting stress and depression (McDaniel, 2021;Radesky, 2018a, 2018b;Newsham et al., 2020), our findings show that perceived stress was positively associated with mothers' reported problematic use of phones. On the other hand, stress was not significantly associated with the perceived time mothers spend on their phones. ...
Article
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A growing body of research indicates that parents’ smartphone use is associated with interruptions in parent–child interactions and lower levels of parental responsiveness, which may adversely affect children’s cognitive and socioemotional development. Studies suggest that parent–child interactions are more frequently interrupted by the use of screen-based devices if parents experience more stress specifically resulting from the demands of parenting, yet there are unexamined questions. Is parents’ general daily stress related to technology-based interruptions in parent–child interactions? If so, does parents’ use of mobile technology mediate this relationship? In this first study testing the mediating role of parental use of mobile phones between parental stress and technology-based interruptions in parent–child interactions, we collected data from 604 mothers of children younger than age six with an online survey. Results showed that controlling for child age, family income, mothers’ employment status, household size, and maternal and paternal education, more stressed mothers reported using their mobile phones more problematically (e.g., not being able to resist checking messages), which was linked to more frequent perceived interruptions in the interactions with their children. Our results suggest that using mobile phones may serve as an outlet for stressed parents and is related to disruptions in the flow of parent–child interactions.
... We hypothesised that higher levels of "technoference" via screen technologies would be associated with lower levels of parent-child CJA, parental responsiveness and scaffolding, and higher levels of directiveness during a play interaction in which parents are not actively using devices. To enhance our understanding of the ways in which "technoference" may influence parent-child interaction variables, we included different measures of screen exposure that parents experience when with their infant, including the time the parent spends on their mobile device p/hour when with their infant; the number of audible notifications the parent receives p/hour on average, the number of times p/hour they check their device; having their device within easy reach; and parents' score on the Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent Technology (DISRUPT) scale (McDaniel, 2020). We also explored associations between parent-child CJA, parental responsiveness, scaffolding, directiveness and vocabulary, and other screen usage variables that may vary across parents and households, i.e., parent consciously deciding to put phone away when with their infant; parent co-using screens with their infant; and parent's average amount of screen time when with their infant. ...
... Independent variables used in this study were derived from information provided by the infants' caregivers in the online questionnaire, or the hard copy demographics questionnaire completed by caregivers during the lab session. "Technoference" variables were reported by parents and included the amount of time the parent spends on their mobile device p/hour when with their infant; the number of audible notifications the parent receives p/hour on average; the number of times p/hour they check their device; how much screen time they have on average when with their infant; having their mobile device within easy reach; and parents' score on the Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent Technology (DISRUPT) scale (McDaniel, 2020). ...
Article
“Technoference” describes the distraction from interpersonal activities that can occur due to use of mobile screen devices. Focusing on parent-infant interactions, our study investigated the associations between potential sources of “technoference” and parental responsiveness, scaffolding and directiveness toward their infant, and coordinated joint attention (CJA). Previous research demonstrates that each of these dimensions is related to early language development. Potential sources of “technoference” employed in our study included the amount of time the parent spends on their mobile device per hour when with their infant; the number of audible notifications the parent receives per hour, the number of times per hour they check their device; and parents’ score on the Distraction In Social Relations and Use of Parent Technology (DISRUPT) scale. We investigated associations between our measures of parental “technoference” and infants’ language development, and whether parental responsiveness, scaffolding, directiveness or parent-infant CJA mediate associations between “technoference” and language. Frequency of audible notifications negatively predicted infant vocabulary, and this relationship was fully mediated by parental directiveness.
... Research on parental phone use for coping is still in its early stages, although some studies indicate the importance of stress for parental smartphone use (McDaniel, 2021;. Previous research on parental use of smartphones and Internet resources has instead mainly addressed two questions. ...
Thesis
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Being a parent of young children is associated with both joy and stress. High parental stress was shown to be associated with decreased parental wellbeing and negative child outcomes. Thus, it is important that parents successfully cope with stress. Research has shown that becoming a parent often results in constraints on time allocation and a perceived state of isolation, making it harder to cope with stress. Smartphones might be a useful tool for parental stress management. For most parents, smartphones are always and easily accessible. Moreover, smartphones can provide many resources such as social support and information and can be used for short periods. Accordingly, first studies show that parents often use their smartphones to cope with stress. However, parental smartphone use has been widely problematized in academic and public discussions because smartphones are said to distract parents from interacting with their children. Research on how parents use smartphones to their benefit is still limited. Moreover, we do not know yet whether and under what circumstances coping using smartphones effectively reduces parental stress. To fill this knowledge gap, I examined in my dissertation how mothers of young children use their smartphones for coping with stress and under what circumstances coping using smartphones is effective. As mothers are still the primary caregivers, my dissertation mainly focuses on mothers. In a first theoretical step, I conducted a systematic scoping review summarizing and integrating the previous literature on media use for coping. Many studies assessed how media are used for coping. However, the literature had not clearly identified where media have their place in stress management models. In the scoping review, I suggested placing media in the transactional model of stress and coping by differentiating between coping strategies, such as social support or distraction and coping tools, such as talking to a friend or using a smartphone. When confronted with a stressful encounter, individuals choose a combination of coping tools and coping strategies to cope with stress. The fit of this combination with the situational circumstances determines whether the coping efforts are successful. Based on this conceptualization, I conducted a qualitative focus groups study and a quantitative experience sampling study (ESS). In the focus group study, building on a synthesis of the literature on digital media use for parenting and smartphone use while parenting, I interviewed parents in a medium-sized city and a parent-child health retreat clinic about how they use their smartphones for stress management. In the ESS, I additionally drew on theoretical conceptualizations from mobile communication and digital wellbeing research. Over 200 mothers filled in four questionnaires a day for one week and answered questions about a stressful situation that had happened in the last two hours. Both studies showed that when mothers are in stressful situations with their children, they mainly use their phones to distract themselves from the stressful encounter and to find information and support. In the focus groups study, parents reported many instances in which they successfully used their phones for stress coping. In the ESS, mothers, however, experienced a smaller stress decrease in stressful situations in which they used their phone than in situations involving no phone use. Using positive phone content, though, was related to increased coping effectiveness. My dissertation also demonstrated that social norms around maternal smartphone use play an important role when mothers use their phones for coping with stress. To explore this, I suggested a social constructivist viewpoint on media use and media effects. This viewpoint posits that the perception of and feelings around ones own media use are just as important for media effects as characteristics of objectively measurable media use, such as usage time. Further, I argue that these media use perceptions are influenced by what others say about media use and are, thus, socially constructed. Confirming the value of this viewpoint, I show in the ESS that mothers who perceived stronger injunctive norms against parental phone use experienced increased guilt when they used their phone for stress coping. Feelings of guilt around phone use in turn were related to a diminished coping effectiveness. Overall, my dissertation shows that by using positive content, mothers can use their smartphones to their benefit when they are confronted with stressful situations. Negative social norms against parental smartphone use can, by inducing guilt, be associated with diminished coping effectiveness when mothers use their phone to cope with stress. Therefore, academic and public discussions around smartphone use should consider the benefits of smartphone use for parents so that a more nuanced debate does not lead to social pressure and feelings of guilt among parents.
... Other parents report that it is an easy way to reward themselves or escape from stress or boredom within their parenting role [16,20]. However, parents' media use may at times enhance stress, decrease mood, or be maladaptive ( [21,22]); result in negative social comparisons to others ( [23]); and increase cognitive tension and stress related to multitasking technology and parenting [16]. ...
Article
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Mobile media proliferation throughout society has infused and complicated environments that formerly were interaction rich (e.g., waiting rooms, restaurants, and playgrounds) with the presence of smart devices. Ethnographic studies have indicated that parental use negatively impacts parent-child interaction quality. The current study reviews and expands on previous research through observing systematically parent-child interaction quality throughout the course of an entire meal (30-140 minutes). Utilizing five-minute intervals, across 93 parent-child dyads, we assessed both within- and between-person moment-to-moment changes in parenting quality (i.e., parental positivity, negativity, and engagement) in the context of parental media use. Between-person, only positivity appeared to decrease when comparing low and high parental media use. Within-person findings indicated that when the parent demonstrated higher than their typical media use, we noted a significant decrease in the quality of engagement and positivity. Differing from ethnographic studies, no change in negativity was identified within-person. Utilizing a lagged interval analysis, we identified a pattern of increased parental engagement with their child following intervals with parental media use, identifying a pattern of parental media multitasking heretofore only observed in ethnographic studies. Implications of findings in the context of previous research and future directions are discussed.
... These posts also articulate with the increasing popularity of online parenting interventions [10,[13][14][15]. However, parental preoccupation with social media has diverse consequences, from how parents define the nature of parenting [16], communicate parenting strategies with others [17], and cope with parental stress [18] all the way to how distracted they are when interacting with their offspring [19,20]. Parents' displays of their children online expose a conflict between consent and privacy and the age of children being posted [21][22][23][24], highlighting the ethical issues of sharenting especially when parents make a career out of their social media profiles of their children [3,25,26]. ...
Article
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“Sharenting” is an internet trend in which parents report detailed information or repeatedly post pictures, videos, and other content about their children on social media. Due to the duality of sharenting, which takes place online but has offline consequences, it is essential to understand the implications of sharenting for real-world parenting and child development. The present work analyzes references in the existing literature and links among published articles to better understand sharenting, evidence for it, and major topics associated with it and to uncover the gaps in the literature. Citation analysis of the current literature mainly focuses on risks and benefits related to sharenting practices, especially for the children, and on ethical and privacy concerns. Future studies should investigate the psychological mechanisms that drive sharenting-related behaviors in parents and multidisciplinary approaches to the phenomenon. With a broader perspective on these issues, practitioners and professionals in family studies will be able to delineate guidelines for informative interventions to increase awarenes about the causes and consequences of publicly sharing child content.
... Additionally, parental phubbing is possibly a sign of rejection (Allred, 2020). According to empirical studies, parental phubbing can result in loneliness and depression (Stockdale et al., 2018;Bai et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2020Wang et al., , 2022McDaniel, 2021;Xie et al., 2021). In summary, this study proposes H1: Parental phubbing leads to adolescent depression. ...
Article
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Objective To reveal the relationship between parental phubbing, basic psychological needs satisfaction, self-esteem, and depression and to explore the impact of parental phubbing on depression. Methods A total of 819 junior high school students responded to the parental phubbing scale, basic psychological needs satisfaction scale, self-esteem scale, and depression scale in combination. Results (1) Parental phubbing was significantly correlated with satisfaction of basic psychological needs, self-esteem, and depression. (2) Parental phubbing can not only be used to directly predict depression in junior middle school students but also has an indirect impact on depression through three pathways: a separate mediating effect on basic psychological needs satisfaction, a separate mediating effect on self-esteem and a chain mediating effect on both. Conclusion Parental phubbing is a risk factor for depression, which can negatively affect the mental health of junior high school students.
Article
Smartphone use is ubiquitous in the lives of parents, and an emerging area of research is investigating how parental smartphone use during parent–child interactions affects children’s language outcomes. Findings point toward negative outcomes in language development, but it is less clear what processes affect language outcomes. Gaze following, parental responsiveness, and joint attention are also reduced when parents use their smartphone, and all are critical to language development. In this article, we propose that these factors may mediate the effects of technoference due to parents’ smartphone use on language development in children from birth to 5 years. Because of methodological differences in the limited research conducted on this topic, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about this proposal. We discuss these considerations and suggest directions for the field.
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Mobile devices are deeply integrated into the everyday lives of families and provide direct access to many resources in stressful situations. By proposing that mobile devices might be fitting tools for parental coping, this study connects work on mostly beneficial parental Internet use with work on detrimental effects of device use on the parent–child‐interaction. The results of five focus groups conducted in a clinical and a non‐clinical context show that parents use their mobile devices to seek information, actively cope, distract themselves, and seek social support when confronted with stress. Immediacy, quality, self‐assurance, and successful self‐regulation emerged as factors that determine stress coping effectiveness. Parents indicated strong norms against device use while parenting which could influence successful coping with stress but also protect against negative effects on parent–child‐interaction.
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The increase in the prevalence of smartphones and mobile devices has spurred changes in the caregiving environment of infants and young children, as phones and mobile devices are used at times during caregiving and in caregiving spaces. This use could create disruptions and cause distractions during parenting (termed technoference). This article summarizes the potential impacts on parent responsiveness and the experiences of infants and young children. Yet, it also warns that it is important to consider the reason for and type of parent use. Finally, the article ends with practical tips for working with parents concerning mobile device use.
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Digital media (DM) is omnipresent in society today and impacts every aspect of our life. Previous studies have shown DM to cause problems in interpersonal relationships by creating problematic interruptions in interactions, this has been termed technoference. The current study focuses on parent's self-rated perceived technoference and the rated behavior of their 4- to 5-year-old children. Parents (N = 153) filled out an online questionnaire regarding family DM use and technoference as well as questions regarding their child's behavior. Parents rated the level of technoference caused by their own use of DM as well as the rate of technoference caused by the child's use of DM. Parents were also asked questions regarding their own possible problematic cell phone use. The findings reveal a statistically significant contribution of technoference, caused by the parents' use of DM, to the behavior repertoire of the children.
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This paper describes the development of a self-report measure of mothers' engagement in technological activities during mother-infant interactions. In Study 1, mothers (n = 332; infants: 3.8 ± 1.4 months) completed the Maternal Distraction Questionnaire (MDQ) and related questionnaires. Factor analysis revealed two distinct subscales representing engagement with technological distractors and perceived distraction. Subscales correlated with relevant measures of feeding styles, attachment, and infant eating behaviors and temperament. In Study 2, mothers (n = 24; infants: 3.8 ± 1.8 months) completed the MDQ and kept feeding activity diaries. Significant correlations between MDQ subscales and diary data were noted. In sum, the MDQ is a valid measure of maternal engagement with technological activities during mother-infant interactions.
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The current article reviews the emerging research related to parent distraction with phones and mobile devices. From this review, it is clear that parent distraction with phones and mobile devices while around children has become common. This is concerning, as the evidence suggests links with parenting and child outcomes—such as lower awareness and sensitivity, fewer verbal and nonverbal interactions, less coordinated parenting and coparenting, dissatisfaction with time spent together, and negative child reactions (e.g., problem behaviors). The issue is complex, however, as many reasons may drive parents to use devices around children, such as strong habits, device notifications, work/social pressures, parenting stress, and boredom or loneliness. Ultimately, parenting is affected due to displacement of time with children, difficulty of multitasking between device and child, and the emotions and stresses that can come from device use. Research gaps are found and future directions are proposed. Most findings come from self-reports or observations. More longitudinal and experimental work is needed to establish causation. Furthermore, as parents and children are concerned about phone use during family time, it is important for evidence-based programs to be developed to address healthy device habits specifically during family time and social interactions.
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For American parents, smartphone ownership is nearly universal. The majority of parents report spending too much time on their phones and feeling distracted by them daily.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines encourage parents to be mindful of technology use around children, due to associations between parental phone use and less responsive parent‐child interactions2 and more child externalizing behaviors.3 However, there are potential positive uses of technology by parents (e.g., social support), which need to be considered when planning interventions. This study’s aim was to examine parents’ in‐the‐moment motivations for smartphone use during stressful moments and associations with parent characteristics.
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With the rise in affordability of digital media and mobile devices, children under age 2 on average spend significantly more time with digital media than is recommended. Although concerns have been expressed about how parent and child media use might negatively impact parent–child attachment, there continues to be a scarcity of research on the topic. The current study assessed both the amount and the way in which children (11–26 months) and their parents engage with digital media and the impact on early attachment after controlling for temperament, parent income, parent age, marital status, and access to support. The study utilizes data from a diverse sample: 248 parents of infants completed an attachment q‐sort and surveys assessing the amount of media use, parental absorption in media, types of parental mediation, temperament, and demographics. Results showed that for both parent and child, time using digital media and co‐viewing was not predictive of attachment insecurity. Parental absorption in media was found to significantly predict attachment insecurity. Greater child TV media use was associated with poorer attachment security when there was limited to no parental active mediation. Active mediation served as a protective factor for attachment while parental absorption in media serves as a risk factor for attachment.
Conference Paper
With the spread of smartphones, mothers who operate smartphones while breast-feeding are increasing. This kind of activities are sometimes defined as a bad behavior although this is one of few repose in parenting. In this paper, we investigate if the use of smartphone affects the breast-feeding from the viewpoints of the mother's posture and the quality of communication between the mother and the baby. We measure the behavior of the mother with/without smartphone using wearable sensors and video camera. As a result of the survey, sensor data did not show the significant difference in the mother's posture. In the observation of the video camera, the inclination of a mother's back was different depending on the presence or absence of a smartphone operation. As a result of research on communication with infants, it was longer for mothers to notice changes in their baby while operating smartphones. In the future, in order to reduce mother's stress, we will consider how to operate smartphones properly, instead of prohibiting operation of smartphones for nursing care.
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Experimental research with parents of older children suggests parents' engagement with technological devices (e.g., television, mobile devices) in the presence of their children decreases the quality of parent-child interactions. Many mothers report frequent use of technological devices during infant feeding but, to date, few studies have explored the potential association between maternal technological device use during feeding and the quality of infant feeding interactions. To this end, mothers (n = 25) and their infants (mean age = 19.3 ± 6.4 weeks) participated in a within-subject, experimental study to explore associations between maternal digital media use and feeding interaction quality within a laboratory setting. Dyads were video-recorded while breastfeeding under two counterbalanced conditions: Digital Media Use versus Control. Mothers engaged their infants in significantly less cognitive growth fostering during the Digital Media Use compared to Control condition. Infants of mothers with typically low levels of technology use during feeding showed a significant decrease in their responsiveness to their mother during the Digital Media Use compared to Control condition. These results illustrate maternal digital media use was associated with decreases in some, but not all, aspects of the quality of the feeding interaction, meriting further investigation with larger, more diverse samples.