Caregiver mobile phone use while monitoring children is a behavior of increasing prevalence. Family mealtimes have long been considered a time in which parents and children connect emotionally and model eating behaviors, but prior studies have documented less parent-child conversation and more negative parent reactions to child behavioral bids at the table during parent phone use. Research on this topic to date is sparse and focuses only on US populations. The current study used non-participant naturalistic observation to record data on parental mealtime device use and family interactions while dining with children in a fast food restaurant in Italy. Thirty seven families (individuals observed = 129) were observed at a restaurant for the duration of their meal. Qualitative analysis of field notes indicated that mobile phones are frequently used by caregivers during feeding interactions. A novel observation in the current study was different patterns of use by parent gender and age. Mothers appeared to divide their attention between phone and child, whereas fathers evidenced more continuous mobile phone use during which there was lower responsiveness towards children during the meal. Younger parents more frequently used mobile phones, compared to older parents. Parents who missed child bids for attention were all phone users during the mealtime.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|State||Published - 2020|