Taylor & Francis
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Channel 7 Telethon Trust
As families increase their use of mobile touch screen devices (smartphones and tablet computers), there is potential for this use to influence parent-child interactions required to form a secure attachment during infancy, and thus future child developmental outcomes. Thirty families of infants (aged 9–15 months) were interviewed to explore how parents and infants use these devices, and how device use influenced parents’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours towards their infant and other family interactions. Two-thirds of infants were routinely involved in family video calls and one-third used devices for other purposes. Parent and/or child device use served to both enhance connection and increase distraction between parents and infants and between other family members. Mechanisms for these influences are discussed. The findings highlight a new opportunity for how hardware and software should be designed and used to maximise benefits and reduce detriments of device use to optimise parent-infant attachment and child development. Practitioner Summary: Many families with infants regularly use smartphones and tablet computers. This qualitative study found that how devices were used either enhanced or disrupted feelings of parent-infant attachment. Practitioners should be aware of the potential beneficial and detrimental impacts of device use among families given implications for attachment and future child development.
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