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Study: Parents distracted by smartphones

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Minde Christensen is a stay-at-home mom and admits she gets distracted with her smartphone.

"As my kids are wandering around that I'll be checking Facebook and email and there have been times when I didn't know where my children are," she said.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics took a look at the role smartphones play with parents and kids. Researchers observed 55 caregivers with young children at fast food restaurants; 40 of the caregivers used mobile devices during their meal and some seemed completely absorbed.

"All their attention, all their gaze was at the device. They rarely put it down to talk with other people within the group. They seemed to be more engaged in the device than with the children they cared for," said Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center.

The children reacted two different ways; some accepted the behavior as normal, others tried to get more attention.

"Start conversations or maybe they acted more silly or acted out," Radesky said.

Radesky says when parents are on the phone, their children lose out.

"Those moments of connection—kids' brains are wired to learn from those," she explained.

Christensen agrees, even though she says it's easy to pull out her phone.

"Sometimes I just have to put it away. Put it in my pocket, push them on the swings and just kind of really be engaged. It's a very conscious decision," Christensen said.

Some parents have found a better use for their smartphones, capturing special moments with their kids.

The author of the study says she plans to collaborate with more researchers to do a more detailed study using video. 

Click here for the study on parents using smartphones and ignoring kids.

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