Pitfalls of smartphone parenting

, Posted: Tue, March 11 2014 at 10:38 AM, Updated: Tue, March 11 2014 at 10:50 AM

(NBC) We've all seen kids tune out the rest of the world, totally engrossed in technology. 

Now new research suggests parents can be just as drawn to the light of tablets and smartphones as kids are.

Dr. Jenny Radesky and colleagues at Boston Medical Center did a study in which they observed how 55 caregivers interacted with young children while they were eating at fast food restaurants.

Some of the adults were absorbed in their devices, texting, swiping and scrolling their way through the meal, ignoring the kids.

Experts say face-to-face conversations are crucial to kids' development of language and social skills.

"How to take turns in a conversation and build those sorts of social skills, how to build empathy, you need to be take someone else's perspective, watch their facial reactions," said Radesky.

Researchers readily admit that this snapshot of caregiver/kid relationships is not meant to give a clear picture of all parents, but it's a good reminder for even the most well-intentioned moms and dads to turn off their phones and tune in to their kids.

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