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Is your phone distracting you from parenting?

Child & family expert says it can be "problematic"
Posted at 5:22 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 18:01:22-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — A new, national survey says 62-percent of parents admit to spending too much time on their phone while with their children. We take a local look at how devices are distracting parents.

"But the thing with devices is you can be so engaged, that that gets cut off, you don’t hear as much, you don’t notice as much," remarked Iana Lal, clinical supervisor, Child & Family Services, Cheektowaga.

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Iana Lal, clinical supervisor, Child & Family Services, working inside her office.

Lal tells 7 Eyewitness News a lot of parents are worried about their child's 'screen time', but your habits are the models of behavior for your kids.

"If us, as adults, are having a hard time separating from devices, then it’s kind of hard to ask children to do that as well," said Lal.

Whether pushing a stroller or sitting on the couch at home, parents and caregivers we spoke with say it's hard to stay away from their device.

Jennet Freatman from Lockport has three young children. she admits she gets distracted by her phone.

Jennet Freatman, Lockport mother of three.

"I feel like - 'oh I’ll be there in a minute' — and then I look down and it’s been five minutes and they’re like crying or something and I feel really bad," Freatman reflected. "I've been reading articles about it. I'm trying not to be on the phone."

"Do the kids scold you about it?" asked Buckley. "They have," replied Freatman.

Colleen Young of Alden works as a nanny.

Colleen Young of Alden has worked as a nanny for more than 10 years. She said some of her contracts state 'no devices'.

"When the kids around, I'll put my phone away - on the counter or just so it’s out of sight," Young explained.

"The distraction from it can be problematic," Lal declared.

Adults have a direct impact on a child's brain development, so if you're showing distracted behavior, it could trickle down to your child.

"You have an infant who’s learning how to develop, how to communicate with someone that’s looking at a device all the time - it can disrupt some things," said Lal. "They never ask for attention directly — they're never going to say I need attention right now. They show that through behaviors."

Child & Family Services says when it comes to those distracting devices, the best advice for everyone is "moderation."