(CBS Local) — Parents who prefer to be on their smartphones instead of paying attention to their children may be putting them at increased risk of depression, according to a new study.
Chinese researchers studied 530 students aged between 10 and 18 years old to see if they were victims of parental “phubbing,” a portmanteau of “phone” and “snubbing” describing the habit of ignoring someone in favor of a mobile phone.
The research, published in the Journal of Adolescence, found that children who had phone-obsessed parents were more likely to report depressive symptoms than those who received undivided attention.
Kids were asked to complete two questionnaires where they had to rate their parent’s smartphone use.
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For example, one question asked “During a typical mealtime with my parents, my parents pull out and check their cellphones.” Participants rated this on a scale of one (being never) to five (every time).
Then a separate questionnaire was given to the same students to evaluate their depressive symptoms. They were asked 20 questions to rank their depression levels from 1 (not at all) to 4 (a lot).
After assessing the data, researchers found the more time a parent spends on their gadgets, the more likely their kids are to develop depression.
The effects of parental “phubbing” on depression were also found to be similar between boys and girls.
“The present study highlights the need to establish family norms regulating mobile phone use to reduce phubbing,” researchers concluded.