Pop Mom: New Study Says Put Your Cell Phones Down

February 8, 2016  |  



UCI’s Conte Center on Brain Programming in Adolescent Vulnerabilities recently did a study on rodents (rodents are used as models in medical testing because their genetic, biological and behavior characteristics closely resemble those of humans. In fact, mice share 99% genetics with humans) and discovered that baby’s need consistent and predictable care. When they get ‘choppy care,’ which can come from interruptions and habitual interactions with cell phones, the brain’s dopamine-receptor circuits, which are responsible for pleasure and aren’t yet mature in newborns and infants, don’t develop properly. As a result, babies could grow into adolescence and seek extreme ways to find pleasure, such as fast car driving, drinking and drugs.

The connection was derived from rodents who showed a lack of interest in sweet foods and play with their peers when their mothers gave them ‘choppy maternal care,’ a direct contrast to the rodents who received consistent care. With rodents being so closely related to humans in behavior, it’s a very likely scenario that could play out in our kids. The scientists are currently testing humans to further their research.

The study is important because it serves as a warning for how we could be harming our babies. I mean, haven’t we all heard about the potential dangers of cell phone use on our own health? They tell us don’t sleep with the phone under our pillow because it could either set it on fire from overheating or the radio active waves could damage our brains. It’s an ongoing controversy, which some choose to dismiss, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? Just keep the phone away from your bed. If you use the phone as an alarm, like many people today, consider investing in an old school alarm clock.

Getting back to baby, the study makes sense at a basic level because what newborn needs a disconnected, multi-tasking mom? I remember my mother getting heated with me for talking on the phone while breastfeeding. She felt it was the baby’s time and it should be relaxed and used for bonding; and she was right. Not every call, text or email needs our urgent attention. People know we have a baby so their expectations aren’t even high.  

Ironically, there was a study conducted last year that used an app to discover that the average person picks up their cell phone 85 times a day, which is twice as often as they initially thought.

I’m constantly picking up my phone, which leads me to facebook, then instagram, then email. And even though my kids are three and six-years-old, seeing me check my phone a zillion times throughout the day is definitely a form of choppy parenting, and I don’t need a study to tell me that it’s not good. It doesn’t even feel good when I’m doing it.

So what could be done?

How about make a phone a phone again, for ourselves and definitely when the babies and kids are around? Give designated times to check emails, text and phone messages. The world isn’t going to explode if we don’t get back to people right away. Put the phone in the other room to make it less accessible. How about getting some clocks on the wall-I have none- and watches back on our wrist? And, no, that doesn’t mean a Smart watch. Being more conscious over all of how much time we’re spending on the phone could make all the difference. Sometimes it’s baby steps.

The last thing we want to do is damage our kids health or pass down unhealthy habits down.

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