125: Should you worry about technoference?

technoference phubbing

I often hear two related ideas about adults’ screen usage around children. Sometimes the parent asking the question guiltily confesses to using screens around their children more than they would like, and to using screens as a momentary escape from the demands of parenting.

Or the parent asking the question feels that they have found a sense of balance in their own screen usage, but worries about their partner who frequently ignores their child because they’re so focused on a screen.

In this episode we interview a luminary in the field of research related to children and screen usage: Dr. Jenny Radesky, who is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School.  Her research interests include the use of mobile technology by parents and young children, and how this relates to child self-regulation and parent-child interaction, and she was the lead author of the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on digital media use in early childhood.

We’ll learn whether you should be worried about Technoference, and some judgement-free steps you can take to navigate your (or your partner’s) screen usage around your child.


Parenting Membership 

If parenting feels really hard, and it seems like you’ve read all the books and you’ve asked for advice in free communities and you’re tired of having to weed through all the stuff that isn’t aligned with your values to get to the few good nuggets, then the Parenting Membership will help you out.

Click the banner to learn more. Join the waitlist to get notified when doors reopen in May 2025.






Al-Saggaf, Y., & O’Donnell, S.B. (2019). Phubbing: Perceptions, reasons behind, predictors, and impacts. Human Behavior & Emerging Technology 1, 132-140.

Christensen, T.H. (2009). ‘Connected presence’ in distributed family life. New Media & Society 11(3), 433-451.

Desrochers, S., Hilton, J.M., & Larwood, L. (2005). Preliminary validation of the work-family integration blurring scale. Journal of Family Issues 26(4), 442-466.

Elias, N., Lemish, D., Dalyot, S., & Floegel, D. (2020). “Where are you?” An observational exploration of parental technoference in public places in the U.S. and Israel. Journal of Children and Media (Online first).

Gramm, M.M., Vollmer, R.L., Harpel, T.S., McDaniel, B., & Schumacher, J. (2019). Relationship between parent distraction with technology at mealtimes and child eating behavior: A pilot study. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science 5(1), 15-19.

Hinkier, A., Sobel, K., Suh, H., Sung, Y-C., Lee, C.P., & Kientz, J.A. (2015). Proceedings of the 33rd annual ACM conference on human factors in computing systems (p.727-736.

Hong, W., Liu, R-D., Ding, Y., Oei, T.P., Zhen, R., & Jiang, S. (2019). Parents’ phubbing and problematic mobile phone use: The roles of the parent-child relationship and children’s self-esteem. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 22(12), 779-786.

Kelly, K.R., & Ocular, G. (2020). Family smartphone practices and parent-child conversations during informal science learning at an aquarium. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science 1-10.

Lemish, D., Elias, N, & Floegel, D. (2020). “Look at me!” Parental use of mobile phones at the playground. Mobile Media & Communication 8(2), 170-187.

Mangan, E., Leavy, J., & Jancey, J. (2017). Mobile device use when caring for children 0-5 years: A naturalistic playground study. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 29, 337-343.

McDaniel, B.T., & Drouin, M. (2019). Daily technology interruptions and emotional and relational well-being. Computers in Human Behavior 99, 1-8.

McDaniel, B.T., Galovan, A.M., Cravens, J.D., & Drouin, M. (2018). “Technoference” and implications for mothers’ and fathers’ couple and coparenting relationship quality. Computers in Human Behavior 80, 303-313.

McDaniel, B.T., & Radesky, J.S. (2017). Technoference: Longitudinal associations between parent technology use, parenting stress, and child behavior problems. Pediatric Research 84(2), 210-218.

Misra, S., Cheng, L., Genvie, J., & Yuan, M. (2014). The iPhone effect: The quality of in-person social interactions in the presence of mobile devices. Environment and Behavior 48(2), 275-298.

Modecki, K.L., Low-Choy, S., Uink, B.N., Vernon, L., Correia, H., & Andrews, K. (2020). Tuning into the real effect of smartphone use on parenting: A multiverse analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 61(8), 855-865.

Myruski, S., Gulyayeva, O., Birk, S., Perez-Edgar, K., Buss, K.A., & Dennis-Tiwary, T.A. (2018). Developmental Science 21(4), e12610.

Newsham, G., Drouin, M., & McDaniel, B.T. (2020). Problematic phone use, depression, and technology interference among mothers. Psychology of Popular Media 9(2), 117-124.

Niu, G., Yao, L., Wu, L., Tian, Y., Xu, L., & Sun, X. (2020). Parental phubbing and adolescent problematic mobile phone use: The role of parent-child relationship and self-control. Children and Youth Services Review 116, 105247.

Pancani, L., Gerosa, T., Gui, M., & Riva, P. (2020). “Mom, dad, look at me”: The development of the Parental Phubbing Scale. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 0265407520964866.

Perez, S. (2012, August 27). One-Third of U.S. moms own connected devices, 97% of ipad moms shopped from their tablet last month. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2012/08/27/report-one-third-of- u-s-moms-own-connected-devices-97-of-ipad-moms-shopped-from- their-tablet-last-month/

Radesky, J., Leung, C., Appugliese, D., Miller, A.L., Lumeng, J., & Rosenblum, K.L. (2018). Maternal mental representations of the child and mobile phone use during parent-child mealtimes. Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics 39(4), 310-317.

Radesky, J.S., Kistin, C., Eisenberg, S., Gross, J., Block, G., Zuckerman, B., & Silverstein, M. (2016). Parent perspectives on their mobile technology use: The excitement and exhaustion of parenting while connected. Pediatrics 37(9), 694-701.

Radesky, J., Miller, A.L, Rosenblum, K.L., Appugliese, D., Kaciroti, N., & Lumeng, J. (2014). Maternal mobile device use during a structured parent-child interaction task. Academic Pediatrics 15(2), 238-244.

Radesky, J., Kistin, C.J., Zuckerman, B., Nitzberg, K., Gross, J., Kaplan-Sanoff, M., Augustyn, M., & Silverstein, M. (2014). Patterns of mobile device use by caregivers and children during meals in fast food restaurants. Pediatrics 133(4), e843-e849.

Reed, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R.M. (2017). Learning on hold: Cell phones sidetrack parent-child interactions. Developmental Psychology 53(8), 1428-1436.

Sagioglou, C., & Greitmeyer, T. (2014). Facebook’s emotional consequences: Why Facebook causes a decrease in mood and why people still use it. Computers in Human Behavior 35, 359-363.

Turvill, A., Fiso, D., & Parker, E. (2019). Early childhood technoference threat is predicted by authoritative parenting, but not parental knowledge of digital risks.

Wong, R.S., Tung, K.T.S., Rao, B., Leung, C., Hui, A.N.N., Tso, W.W.Y., Fu, K-W., Jiang, F., Zhao, J., & Ip, P. (2020). Parent technology use, parent-child interaction, child screen time, and child psychological problems among disadvantaged families. The Journal of Pediatrics. Online first.

Xie, X., & Xie, J. (2020). Parental phubbing accelerates depression in late childhood and adolescence: A two-path model. Journal of Adolescence 78, 43-52.

Xie, X., Chen, W., Zhu, X., & He, D. (2019). Parents’ phubbing increases adolescents’ mobile phone addiction: Roles of parent-child attachment, deviant peers, and gender. Children and Youth Services Review 105, 104426.

Yuan, N., Weeks, H.M., Ball, R., Newman, M.W., Chung, Y-J., & Radesky, J.S. (2019). How much do parents actually use their smartphones? Pilot study comparing self-report to passive sensing. Pediatric Research 86(4), 416-418.

About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Leave a Comment