Parent Mobile Phone Use in Playgrounds: A Paradox of Convenience
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© 2020 The Authors. Published by MDPI Publishing.
Creating social and physical environments that promote good health is a key component of a social determinants approach. For the parents of young children, a smartphone offers opportunities for social networking, photography and multi-tasking. Understanding the relationship between supervision, mobile phone use and injury in the playground setting is essential. This research explored parent mobile device use (MDU), parent-child interaction in the playground, parent attitudes and perceptions towards MDU and strategies used to limit MDU in the playground. A mixed-methods approach collected naturalistic observations of parents of children aged 0-5 (n = 85) and intercept interviews (n = 20) at four metropolitan playgrounds in Perth, Western Australia. Most frequently observed MDU was scrolling (75.5%) and telephone calls (13.9%). Increased duration of MDU resulted in a reduction in supervision, parent-child play and increased child injury potential. The camera function offered the most benefits. Strategies to prevent MDU included turning to silent mode, wearing a watch and environmental cues. MDU was found to contribute to reduced supervision of children, which is a risk factor for injury. This is an emerging area of injury prevention indicating a need for broader strategies addressing the complex interplay between the social determinants and the developmental younger years.
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