How Your Texts Can Hurt a Child’s Emotional Health

Put down that phone, Mom — stat! A new study says fragmented and chaotic care may harm a baby’s emotional development.

Motherhood and multitasking may seem synonymous for many, but new research indicates that women should put down their phones while taking care of their babies.

Parental care that is fragmented, with such seemingly harmless but frequent everyday disruptions as phone calls or text messages, can increase a baby’s risk for emotional problems — like risky behaviors, drugs and depression — later in life.

That’s among the findings of a study out of the University of California at Irvine that was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry this month.

The study was conducted with rats, as is standard for potentially harmful experiments. But researchers say its findings have implications for human parents caring for their own infants.

According to UC Irvine, consistent rhythms and patterns appear to be crucial for developing brains because the brain needs predictable and continuous stimuli to grow robust networks of neurons.

Study co-author Tallie Z. Baram, director of UC Irvine’s Conte Center on Brain Programming in Adolescent Vulnerabilities, says in a news release:

“It is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behavior but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial. We might wish to turn off the mobile phone when caring for baby and be predictable and consistent.”

What’s your take on these research findings? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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