Parents who turn to smartphones and tablets to break up the tedium of caring for an infant around the clock may be teaching their babies to have a short attention span, a small study suggests.
That’s because when parents stop focusing on playtime with their baby to concentrate on other things like tiny screens, their infants may mimic this behavior by also focusing on toys and other objects for shorter periods of time.
In other words, babies learn to focus better when their parents aren’t distracted, said lead study author Chen Yu, a brain science researcher at Indiana University at Bloomington.
How your phone might give your kid a short attention span | Reuters
“If parents join a child’s attention on a toy object, children are more likely to show longer attention on the target object compared with cases that parents don’t show any attention or interest,” Yu said by email.
This works best when parents follow their baby’s lead, Yu added.
“If parents try to lead by getting the child’s attention on the object of the parent’s interest, this effort may not be successful,” Yu said. “But if parents just follow the child’s attention/interest it is easier to be in joint attention with their child.”
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