Indiana University study: Caregivers whose eyes wander during playtime may raise children with shorter attention spans

29 Apr

Katherine Doyle of Reuters reported in the article, Parenting style linked to kids’ Internet addiction:

Recollections of strict, unaffectionate parents were more common among young adults with an unhealthy attachment to Internet use, compared to their peers, in a new Greek study.
Young adults who recall their parents being tough or demanding without showing affection tend to be sad or to have trouble making friends, and those personality traits raise their risk of Internet addiction, the researchers say.
“In short, good parenting, including parental warmth and affection, that is caring and protective parents, has been associated with lower risk for Internet addiction,” said lead author Argyroula E. Kalaitzaki of the Technological Education Institute (TEI) of Crete in Heraklion, “whereas bad parenting, including parental control and intrusion, that is authoritarian and neglectful parents, has been associated with higher risk for addiction.”
Research on Internet addiction is still relatively new, and there are no actual criteria for diagnosing the disorder, though there are many inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities in the U.S., Australia and Asia….
Kalaitzaki’s team predicted that the way kids bonded with their parents would predict aspects of their personality as young adults, which in turn would predict their likelihood of Internet addiction….
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/parenting-style-linked-kids-39-internet-addiction-222041126.html

Citation:

Argyroula Kalaitzaki
Technological Educational Institute of Crete
Article
The impact of early parenting bonding on young adults’ Internet addiction, through the mediation effects of negative relating to others and sadness.
Argyroula Kalaitzaki
Addictive Behaviors 01/2014; 39(3):733–736.

ABSTRACT The aim of the present study is the investigation of the potential role of negative relating to others, perceived loneliness, sadness, and anxiety, as mediators of the association between early parental bonding and adult Internet Addiction (IA). The factorial structure of the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and the prevalence rates of it in a Greek samplewill also be investigated. A total of 774 participants were recruited froma Technological Education Institute (mean age = 20.2, SD = 2.8) and from high school technical schools (mean age = 19.9, SD = 7.4). The IATwas used tomeasure the degree of problematic Internet use behaviors; the Parental Bonding Instrument was used to assess one’s recalled parenting experiences during the first 16 years of life; the shortened Person’s Relating to Others Questionnaire was used to assess one’s negative (i.e. maladaptive) relating to others (NRO). Both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the three-factor structure of the IAT. Only 1.0% of the sample was severely addicted to the Internet. The mediated effects of only the NRO and sadness were confirmed.
Negative relating to others was found to fully mediate the effect of both the father’s optimal parenting
and affectionless control on IA, whereas sadness was found to fully mediate the effect of the mother’s optimal parenting on IA. Overall, the results suggest that parenting style has an indirect impact on IA, through the mediating role of negative relating to others or sadness in later life. Both family-based and individual-based prevention and intervention efforts may reduce the incidence of IA.
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/259586504_The_impact_of_early_parenting_bonding_on_young

An Indiana University study expands on the importance of parental attention.

Science Daily reported in Infant attention span suffers when parents’ eyes wander during playtime:

Caregivers whose eyes wander during playtime — due to distractions such as smartphones or other technology, for example — may raise children with shorter attention spans, according to a new study by psychologists at Indiana University.

The work, which appears online today in the journal Current Biology, is the first to show a direct connection between how long a caregiver looks at an object and how long an infant’s attention remains focused on that same object.

“The ability of children to sustain attention is known as a strong indicator for later success in areas such as language acquisition, problem-solving and other key cognitive development milestones,” said Chen Yu, who led the study. “Caregivers who appear distracted or whose eyes wander a lot while their children play appear to negatively impact infants’ burgeoning attention spans during a key stage of development….”                                                                                         https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160428131954.htm

See, Parent’s Eye Contact During Playtime Can Extend Baby’s Attention Span: Simple Way To Improve Cognitive Development In Infancy        http://www.medicaldaily.com/eye-contact-attention-span-cognitive-development-383980

Citation:

Infant attention span suffers when parents’ eyes wander during playtime

Eye-tracking study first to suggest connection between caregiver focus and key cognitive development indicator in infants

Date:             April 28, 2016

Source:         Indiana University

Summary:

Caregivers whose eyes wander during playtime — due to distractions such as smartphones or other technology, for example — may raise children with shorter attention spans, according to a new study.

Journal Reference:

  1. Chen Yu, Linda B. Smith. The Social Origins of Sustained Attention in One-Year-Old Human Infants. Current Biology, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.026

Here is the press release from Indiana University:

IU study finds infant attention span suffers when parents’ eyes wander during playtime

Eye-tracking study first to suggest connection between caregiver focus and key cognitive development indicator in infants

  • April 28, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Caregivers whose eyes wander during playtime — due to distractions such as smartphones or other technology, for example — may raise children with shorter attention spans, according to a new study by psychologists at Indiana University.

The work, which appears online today in the journal Current Biology, is the first to show a direct connection between how long a caregiver looks at an object and how long an infant’s attention remains focused on that same object.

“The ability of children to sustain attention is known as a strong indicator for later success in areas such as language acquisition, problem-solving and other key cognitive development milestones,” said Chen Yu, who led the study. “Caregivers who seem distracted or whose eyes wander a lot while their children play appear to negatively impact infants’ burgeoning attention spans during a key stage of development.”

Yu is a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Linda Smith, IU Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is co-author on the paper.

“Historically, psychologists regarded attention as an property of individual development,” Smith said. “Our study is one of the first to consider attention as impacted by social interaction. It really appears to be an activity performed by two social partners since our study shows one individual’s attention significantly influence another’s.”

Thanks to head-mounted cameras worn by both caregivers and infants in the study, IU scientists got a first-person point of view on parents and children playing together in an environment that closely resembled a typical play session at home or day care. The technology also allowed the parents and children to play with physical toys. A typical eye-tracking study of children would involve manipulating objects on a screen.

Caregivers were given no instructions before engaging with children to ensure the psychologists got an unfiltered view of their interactions.

Generally, Yu said, caregivers fell into two major groups: those who let the infants direct the course of their play and those who attempted to forcefully guide the infants’ interest toward specific toys.

“A lot of the parents were really trying too hard,” he said. “They were trying to show off their parenting skills, holding out toys for their kids and naming the objects. But when you watch the camera footage, you can actually see the children’s eyes wandering to the ceilings or over their parents’ shoulders — they’re not paying attention at all.”

The caregivers who were most successful at sustaining the children’s attention were those who “let the child lead.” These caregivers waited until they saw the children express interest in a toy and then jumped in to expand that interest by naming the object and encouraging play.

“The responsive parents were sensitive to their children’s interests and then supported their attention,” Yu said. “We found they didn’t even really need to try to redirect where the children were looking.”

The gains in attention for children in this group were significant. In cases where infants and caregivers paid attention to the same object for over 3.6 seconds, the infant’s attention lingered 2.3 seconds longer on average on the same object even after the caregiver’s gaze turned away. This extra time works out to nearly four times longer compared to infants whose caregivers’ attention strayed relatively quickly.

The impact of a few seconds here and there may seem small. But when they are magnified over a play session — and those play sessions occur over months of daily interaction during a critical stage in mental development — the outcomes grow significantly, Yu said. A number of other studies tracking the influence of sustained attention in children from ages 1 through grade school show consistently that longer attention spans at an early age are a strong predictor of later achievement.

“Showing that what a parent pays attention to minute by minute and second by second actually influences what a child is paying attention to may seem intuitive, but social influences on attention are potentially very important and ignored by most scientists,” said Sam Wass, a research scientist at the University of Cambridge whose commentary on the study appears in the same journal. “Chen Yu and Linda Smith’s work in this area in recent years has been hugely influential.”

The shortest attention spans in the study were observed in a third group, in which caregivers displayed extremely low engagement with children while playing. These distracted caregivers tended to sit back and not play along, or simply look elsewhere during the exercise.

“When you’ve got a someone who isn’t responsive to a child’s behavior,” Yu said, “it could be a real red flag for future problems.”

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Technology of all types and the effect technology has on personal relationships in increasingly the subject of research. Moi has written about the effect of television on the brains of young children. In Television cannot substitute for quality childcare and parental interaction. Your toddler not only needs food for their body and appropriate physical activity, but you need to nourish their mind and spirit as well. There are several good articles which explain why you do not want your toddler parked in front of a television several hours each day. Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE has a very good explanation of how television can be used as a resource by distinguishing between television watching and targeting viewing of specific programs designed to enhance learning. In Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television? http://pregnancy.about.com/od/yourbaby/a/babiesandtv.htm Elizabeth Pantley commented about the effects of young children and television. MSNBC was reporting about toddlers and television in 2004. In the MSNBC report, Watching TV May Hurt Toddlers’ Attention Spans the harmful effects of television viewing on children were discussed. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4664749#.UtNlDbB3tdg Robin Yapp of the Daily Mail reported in the article, Children who watch too much TV may have ‘damaged brain structures. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2537240/Children-watch-TV-damaged-brain-structures.html#ixzz2qFKiwot6

Jon Hamilton of NPR reported in the story, Childhood Maltreatment Can Leave Scars In The Brain:

Maltreatment during childhood can lead to long-term changes in brain circuits that process fear, researchers say. This could help explain why children who suffer abuse are much more likely than others to develop problems like anxiety and depression later on.

Brain scans of teenagers revealed weaker connections between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus in both boys and girls who had been maltreated as children, a team from the University of Wisconsin reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Girls who had been maltreated also had relatively weak connections between the prefrontal cortex the amygdala.

Those weaker connections “actually mediated or led to the development of anxiety and depressive symptoms by late adolescence,” says Ryan Herringa, a psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin and one of the study’s authors….
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/11/04/242945454/childhood-maltreatment-can-leave-scars-in-the-brain?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=share&utm_campaign=

Helping parents and caretakers to respond appropriately to children is crucial to stopping the cycle of abuse.

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