Mobile phone use is widespread and pervasive, but little is known about its impact on parent-infant interactions. In a recent NIMH funded study, researchers found infants do not have the same engagement and positive affect when their mothers are distracted by mobile phone use.
Fifty infants aged 7.2 to 23.6 months completed a modified version of the Still Face Paradigm (SFP) along with their mothers. The three phases of SFP included free play (FP) where mother and infant play and interact, still face (SF) where mother withholds attention and is unresponsive, and reunion (RU) where mother resumes normal interaction. In this modified version, mothers used mobile devices during SF and also reported their typical mobile phone use and infant temperament. Infant behavior was coded for negative and positive affect, engagement with toys or mother, attempts to gain attention, and room exploration.