Both adults and children may feel the urge to pick up a device just because it’s around. “Our devices are addictive and designed to be that way,” said Dr. Megan DeFrates, a clinical associate of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “They’re designed in a way that we get a little dopamine boost, a little hit when we get a like or a notification.”
DeFrates said families should have phones “out of sight and out of mind.” Allison Johnsen, a manager of program development at Northwestern Medicine’s Central DuPage Hospital, agrees. She said parents can place phones in, say, a basket in the kitchen, outside of the room kids are learning in.
She also notes that distractions can come from having multiple tabs open on a computer.
“Yeah it’s a big temptation, and the brain gets used to that stimulation. So if we’re providing it, we want it even more,” Johnsen said. “So it’s like weaning yourself off the multiscreen, multitasking, looking at your phone all the time behavior.”