Can A Mother Who Spends More Time Online Than Caring For Children Affect Learning

Popular video game developer Tim Schafer has decided to change the percentage of time a woman needs to spend playing games on the handheld, while her children play.

Can A Mother Who Spends More Time Online Than Caring For Children Affect Learning

I have a 4-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.

I’m 29 years old and working on a doctorate in my field of psychology. I have always been in charge of our finances and been disciplined about doing my own laundry. I eat more veggies and exercise.

I am also a woman living in the internet age. I’m online more often than I am with my kids. I have learned to live with this fact, but lately I feel as though this is hurting my family. I have found ways to manage my time in our home to better accommodate this pattern but I feel as though the worst effects might be lost on me. Is there any suggestion about how I can address this situation that would improve the situation?

Absolutely. It’s a noble question, as your question refers to the impact of digital devices on kids. And the impact is actually pretty substantial. Studies show that parents who constantly multi-task with electronics while their kids are watching TV or playing outside are negatively affecting their kids’ learning.

In a 2016 study published in the journal Child Development, for example, nearly three-quarters of parents reported that they regularly multi-task with their kids, and roughly two-thirds said they do it when they’re watching television or playing on the playground or at home.

You’re right that it’s a challenging problem to fix. It doesn’t just affect parents of kids who have ADHD or who are hyperactive or have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. In a 2014 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers found that digital devices not only impact cognitive development, they can actually hinder breathing. Not only can it impact breathing, but it can even result in “a reduction in the rate at which air passes from our lungs to our heads,” the researchers wrote.

Of course, there are risks and benefits to digital devices as well. In 2015, a study in the journal Pediatrics showed that there are few positive neurological effects for kids in the short term, and that the benefits may decrease when a kid’s adolescent. The authors of the study concluded that children who spend excessive amounts of time in front of screens will likely develop symptoms of anxiety and depression later in life.

But so far, research suggests that digital devices have positive long-term effects on kids. The majority of young people who spend a lot of time on a screen tend to perform better in school and score higher on standardized tests in later grades, and these positive effects are much stronger in countries where kids and parents use digital devices at a younger age.

I agree with that research, though I wouldn’t recommend waiting until your kid is 13 years old to see if digital technology could help them. In addition to the large number of studies showing that digital devices have positive long-term effects, I think it’s worth a discussion in early childhood between parents and kids about when they should and shouldn’t be consuming digital media, what the real costs are, and how they should and shouldn’t be using devices. Parents, in general, should try to set a daily limit for how much time a child spends on digital devices and then talk to them about how to get through those times. In your own case, you might want to add in as much discussion about when you might give your kids their own digital devices, but stick to a daily limit on digital time for yourself and what you’re willing to tolerate from your kids.

Parents shouldn’t cut out digital devices altogether and totally scrap digital experiences. Studies show that kids who are constantly exposed to smartphones are actually more likely to neglect homework and behave badly, as well as more susceptible to developing digital devices dependence. Yet, if you’re able to manage your own digital use in a healthy way and keep the devices on a timer, you can spend your time with your kids without worrying about how much screen time they’re getting. If they grow up knowing how to use a screen in a positive way, they can be a generation that’s more plugged in than our own, not less.

B. C. Podolsky is the principal of C. C. Podolsky & Associates, a management consulting and leadership development firm, and is the author of the book “Leadership for Life.” This article is adapted from a response to an internal LinkedIn posting by your organization. Please send inquiries to

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