Addicted to social media? Here's how it could affect your kids
Hands up if you're guilty.
Laptops, smartphones and social media have made life easier for parents in many ways, but checking your updates at the dinner table could be having a detrimental effect on your child, according to a study.
Researchers at Boston University studied 225 mothers and their 6-year-old children while they ate their evening meal. On average, the mums who used their mobiles during the meal interacted with their children 39% less often and talked to them 20% less than the group who didn’t have access to their devices.
Researchers found the lack of interaction was particularly problematic when the meal included foods that were new to the child, as young children can find the introduction of new flavours and textures stressful. Mums who used their mobile devices interacted 48% less often when new foods were introduced, meaning children missed out on important support and encouragement. The study was published online in the journal Academic Pediatrics.
Three reasons to drop the phone at dinner:
It’s good to talk
Children who come from families where dinner time involves a lively conversation around the table tend to have better vocabularies. Encourage your child to chat about their day as they eat by asking a routine question, such as: What was the best and worst part of your day?
Family meals lower obesity risk
Studies show that children who regularly eat 20-minute meals at the family table are less likely to be obese. Encouragement is also key; where parents used mealtime to lecture their children about food, homework or other matters, those children were more likely to be overweight.
For teenagers, ritual is key
The ritual of family dinners has a particularly positive impact on adolescents. Canadian research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that the more meals teenagers ate at home together with family members, the less likely they were to experience behavioural and emotional problems.