Cell phones, smart phones, and tablets have taken over our lives.
"In 2007, it's as if the world changed because the iPhone came out," said Dr. Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, a psychology professor at Temple University. "We're all on our cell phones all the time and then ringing and the texts are coming in and we have no idea what impact that has on the parent-child interaction."
Dr. Hirsch-Pasek and her graduate student Jessa Reed took to the playground to study this behavior.
"You can dig deep in the literature, but real findings can come from when you step outside the lab," Reed said.
We did our own observation at Tampa's Kate Jackson Park, and what we saw was startling.
"More and more, we're seeing that parents are paying attention more to the cell phone and not so much to the child," the professor said.
While the kids were playing outside, Mom and Dad were playing on their devices -- talking on the phone, texting, reading, completely distracted.
"It's pulling our attention off of the eyes of our child," said Dr. Hirsch-Pasek.
It seems harmless. "We don't even recognize that we're doing it," she continued, "We don't notice what they did on the swing and we don't look into their eyes, they know that we're ignoring them."
While the study hasn't been published yet, Dr. Pasek says it's not enough for parents to simply be present at the playground. Being actively engaged is what really conveys the message of love.
"So my advice to all parents is spend a little more time looking eye to eye and a little less time looking down."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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