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1 Nov, 2013 13:02

Parents' cellphone addiction may hinder child development – Swedish study

Parents' cellphone addiction may hinder child development – Swedish study

Swedish children may be suffering emotional harm because of their mobile phone-dependent parents, a study has found. One in five parents in Stockholm confessed to having lost sight of their child in a “dangerous place” while focusing on a mobile device.

A new survey by YouGov revealed that one in five Swedish parents have been asked by their children to put their mobile phones down. The problem appears to be particularly prevalent in Stockholm where 1 in 3 children complain about their parents’ dependence on mobile devices.

“Parents put down their kids and pick up their phones. It's like this all the time," preschool teacher Anna Lindelöf told Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet. "Kids have to play by themselves while parents sit and stare at Facebook.”

The study included 521 parents from across Sweden, posing them the question: Have your children ever complained about your smartphone or tablet usage during activities or vacation?

The investigation’s findings have drawn the attention of medical professionals who believe the lack of attention could have detrimental effects on a child’s development.

Pediatrician Lars H. Gustafsson told the newspaper, Expressen, that it was unusual to observe a phenomenon usually associated with depressed parent in mentally healthy ones.

“I often see parents who don't answer when their children talk to them,” Gustafsson said. “Smaller children need interaction all the time, in everything they discover. The absence of that interaction is very bad for children's development.”

The Swedes are avid smartphone users, with 63 percent of adults using smartphones, according to Google data. Moreover, Internetbarometer, a Nordic statistics company, found that the number of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 who own a smartphone increased by 32 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Cases of child neglect because of internet addiction have become more commonplace over the last few years. Perhaps the most extreme case was recorded in South Korea in 2010 when a couple caused their three-year-old daughter to starve to death because of their addiction to online games.

Police authorities said the couple spent up to 12 hours every night at internet cafes playing a game called “PRIUS” which allows you to create your own virtual life.

The husband, 41, and wife, 25, also confessed to police that they had fed rotten, powdered milk to their daughter and had often spanked her.