When we put a screen between ourselves and our kids, it limits our interaction and feedback. Image Credit: Unsplash/Vitolda Klein

We live in a digital age, but studies have found that one of the worst things parents can do is stay busy on their smartphones while their children are around.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we stop pulling the ‘wool’ over our eyes and truly discover the effects of smartphones on family life.

A March 2022 study published in the journal Media and Communication, surveyed 400 parents of children aged between 5 and 12. The study found that the emotional intelligence of children is adversely affected by their parents’ smartphone use.

It’s a scenario that’s quite common all around the world today – a parent busy on their smartphone while their child is nearby, seeking attention. According to a June 2023 report by the Greater Good Magazine from the University of California, Berkeley, US, while emotional intelligence – the ability to recognise, understand and manage our emotional states – is something we’re all born with, it’s like any valuable skill: it can be learned and developed, and varies from person to person.

How parents express, reflect and talk about emotions with children influences the development of their emotional intelligence. So, when we put a screen between ourselves and our kids, it limits our interaction and feedback.

The reason for this might be ‘still face’ – an expressionless appearance that’s often interpreted as depression – which parents tend to put on when they’re absorbed by their phones. To the child, who’s waiting for a response, this kind of lack of expression and responsiveness can further impact emotional skills.

The study’s biggest takeaway is that parents could reassess their screen use around children and try to stay more engaged with them. At the end of the day, children model themselves on their parents’ behaviours – and still face isn’t really teaching them anything.

Do you try to reduce your smartphone use around your children? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at