Phubbing, when parents snub their children for the smartphone

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A study by researchers from the Bicocca University of our city with the emblematic title "Mom, Dad, Look at me - The development of the Parental Phubbing Scale" has opened a new scenario in the study of the relationship between children and technology. Until now we had only wondered if technology is bad for children, with this new study the point of view is overturned and expanded to the maximum. And the answer is yes, it hurts even if it's the parents who abuse it. That "phubbing" in fact stands for "phone" and "snubbing", a union of two terms which, put together, frame a situation that occurs in different families. The point is no longer just how to protect children who surf the internet, but rather how the influence of parents who snub them for spending too much time on the phone can impact their psychophysical well-being and that of the whole family.

In this article

  • Phubbing, definition
  • The effects of phubbing
Read also: Parents Limit Screen Time: Only one hour per hour

Phubbing, definition

The Del Paeseno study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and explained what we talk about when there are victims of "phubbing" in the family. Phubbing is a social aspect of spending too much time in front of a screen: people around are ignored in favor of what is happening on the smartphone. The research turns the spotlight in particular on the consequences of phubbing in the family, from parents to their children.

Some studies have already confirmed that too much screen time changes children's brains, but when the perspective is reversed, what are the consequences on family relationships? The researchers explained that the little existing literature on this phenomenon actually applies to all kinds of relationships, from romantic ones to those that are created in work contexts. However, few have explored the background of phubbing in the family and in particular on the children and adolescent children of parents too busy looking at the cell phone to care about them.

As the researchers behind this research explained, phubbing is a form of social ostracism, a way of excluding some people from our life. The smartphone is a tool so deeply rooted in our lives that it is an almost obligatory extension of it: this is why it is important to reveal the background on different levels starting from the feelings of those who are direct victims of phubbing.

Read also: Family pediatricians: more caution in the use of smartphones, tablets and PCs

The effects of phubbing

The Bicocca researchers interviewed about 3 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 16 to conclude the study and give them more defined outlines. The results of this survey? Children with parents too glued to the smartphone have felt more than once excluded, ignored, overshadowed in the family framework. In addition, the data also highlighted that a mum or a dad who is too addicted to phubbing stimulates a feeling of disconnection in their children: the more they feel that their parents ignore them in favor of the telephone, the less they feel involved in family life. And it will be more difficult to find ways to strengthen the father-son relationship, for example, or to create harmony with the mother figure.

Over the long term, researchers have identified an early hint of conditions such as depression or anxiety in children who have been more heavily phubbed at school age. And therefore, even if we have often wondered how to do it when the child always wants to be the center of attention, in reality this whole Del Paesena research opens up new research scenarios on the parent-child relationship. For once, they are the very first to be ridiculed for anti-social behavior and deleterious to the psychological well-being of children and young people.

  • esteem
  • children and technology
  • attention children
  • child psychology
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