The association of mobile touch screen device use with parent-child attachment: A systematic review

Rebecca Hood, Juliana Zabatiero, Stephen Zubrick, Desiree Silva, Leon Straker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile touch screen devices (smartphones and tablet computers) have become an integral part of many parents' and children's lives, with this interaction linked to physical, mental and social outcomes. Despite the known importance of parent-child attachment, evidence on the association between device use and attachment was yet to be reviewed. Following protocol pre-registration, databases were searched, papers screened, and methodological quality assessed. Three papers met the inclusion criteria, and reported some negative associations between duration of parent/child smartphone use and attachment outcomes. A narrative synthesis on two groups of related papers found child time using any screen technology (including television viewing), and child "problematic" internet, mobile phone, gaming and social media use, was negatively associated with attachment outcomes. Currently there is limited direct evidence on any association between time parents or children spend using these devices and parent-child attachment to support time guidelines for families and professionals working with families.Practitioner Summary: Many parents and children regularly spend time using smartphones and tablet computers. This systematic review found limited evidence evaluating associations between child/adolescent or parent time using devices and parent-child attachment. Until quality evidence exists, practitioners should be alert to potential impacts of device use on family relationships and child outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1606-1622
Number of pages17
Issue number12
Early online date26 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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