A new study shows that the more parents are absorbed by their smartphones, the more likely they are to react harshly to their kids when they misbehave. The study, conducted by the Boston University Medical Center, raises questions about the long-term effects caregivers' cellphone use may have on child development.

Another key concern is that parents who are busy using their smartphones may talk to their children less.

"The single most powerful predictor of a child's vocabulary is conversations with the child," said Dr. Rahil Briggs, director of pediatric behavioral health services at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Researchers did warn, however, that this study is just the first step in examining the correlation between smartphone use and parental behavior. Even before cellphone use became so prevalent, parents have always had to balance childcare and other activities that may distract them.



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