New research published in Frontiers in Psychology explores the consequences of parental phubbing for junior high school students. The findings indicate that parental phubbing (ignoring their child to focus on their phone) is related to poor parent/child relationships and is implicated in cell phone addiction for junior high school students. This study provides clues to the potential causes for cell phone additions in pre-teens.
Cell phone addiction among young people is a widespread problem. When children become addicted to their phones, it affects their academics, social relationships, and sleep routine. Cell phone addiction may affect their impulse control and ability to delay gratification, two valuable skills for adult success. Pre-teens or middle school students, in particular, are at a critical developmental crossroads, and cell phone addiction at this stage could become detrimental to their cognitive and social development.
Zenhong Mi and colleagues sought to determine some potential causes of cell phone addiction for junior high school students in China. Parental relationships for junior high school students often become strained as the child becomes more independent and even rebellious. In addition, peer relationships become more important at this stage, sometimes equalling or surpassing the parental connection. As a result, the research team intended to determine if the quality of parent and peer relationships affects the likelihood of cellphone addiction for junior high school students.
The study focuses on parental ‘phubbing behaviors and parent-child cohesion. The study defined phubbing as any time when parents ignore their children to focus on their cell phones. The participants were 1,200 junior high school students sourced from schools in China. Participants completed questionnaires that collected data on parental phubbing, cell phone addiction, parent-child cohesion, and friendship quality.
Analysis of the data demonstrated that students who reported more symptoms of cell phone addiction also reported higher rates of parental phubbing. This group also reported lower levels of parent-child cohesion. Finally, students who were experiencing low friendship quality were more vulnerable to cell phone addiction
These findings support previous research that has found that when children experience parental neglect, they tend to demonstrate more behavioral problems. The findings also suggest that a thriving parent-child connection, along with peer support, maybe a way to prevent cell phone addiction in junior high school students.
The research team acknowledged some limitations to their work. First, the data was collected using self-report measures, and students may not have accurately reported their feelings or behaviors or may not be truthful. In order to establish cause and effect, more objective research methods should be used. Second, the study participants we all from China, making it difficult to generalize worldwide.
Despite these limitations, this study provides evidence for a link between parental phubbing and mobile phone addiction among junior high school students in China. The findings suggest that improving family relationships and social support may be effective ways to prevent or reduce cell phone addiction among young people.
The study highlights the importance of parental behavior and family relationships in shaping young people’s attitudes toward cell phones. It provides valuable information for parents, educators, and mental health professionals working with young people.
The study, “The relationship between parental phubbing and mobile phone addiction in junior high school students: A moderated mediation model,” was authored by Zenhong Mi, Wanjun Cao, Wenjing Diao, Meixiu Wu, and Xin Fang.