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Compared to adults, kids also have a less developed ability to control their impulses.

If it’s sometimes hard for their parents to unplug, imagine how hard it is for a child who struggles with impulsivity or a teen with a new BFF to resist checking her phone.When we’re defending the practice we call it “multitasking.” How bad could it really be?Pretty bad, according to a recent study that found the mere presence of a smartphone reduces a person’s ability to focus.This is bad news for those of us who think we’re pretty good at not being distracted by the phone when we’re working.“I hear about these issues about technology all the time,” says Matt Cruger, director of the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute.He says that with the kids he works with, he isn’t concerned about their capacity to be able to do homework, but with “the capacity to really get in the mindset of thinking about homework-related activities.” In other words, they could do their work if they were able to focus on it.Even if we haven’t heard the buzz alerting us to something new, we might find ourselves restlessly reaching for the phone to scroll through the constantly updating feeds full of pictures and headlines and jokes curated just for us. But there are also some less-obvious reasons why kids may be particularly hooked.Phones are where young people do a lot of their socializing now, especially as they reach the pre-teen and teenage years, when their major developmental goals are to start crafting an identity separate from their parents and to prioritize forming friendships with their peers — goals that are made for spending hours on social media.“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat.“It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families.It’s something almost all kids do, and most parents have also been known to check their text messages at their desk.If we’re being honest, most of us have our cell phone within arm’s reach when we’re at work, and we will glance at it from time to time.


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