‘Technoference’ refers to the interruption of social interactions by personal technology.
An example of this might be if you’ve ever been out with friends at dinner and someone
repeatedly checks their phone. This can happen when interacting with children as well.
Correlational research suggests that technoference is associated with increases in challenging
behaviors for children, relational difficulties for couples and co-parents, and aspects of parent-
It’s easy to just suggest to parents to “get off your phones” but consider a more
compassionate and empathetic viewpoint: in a survey of mothers of children under six (self-
reported,) mothers with higher levels of stress engaged in more problematic smartphone use,
such as checking notifications. This use was then associated with increased technoference
during parent-child interactions. Keep in mind that some of this stress went beyond just
parenting stress – things like relationships, time and financial stressors also played a part.
Stress can make us more impulsive, which makes it harder to not be checking our phones all
the time. Phones can also be used as a coping mechanism from daily stressors and also a
source of social connection.
If you as a parent or guardian find yourself guilty of technoference, a good place to start
is turning off your phone or notifications during dedicated time with your child. Allow yourself to
reflect on how that dedicated time felt. If you find yourself wanting to change the habit, it may be
helpful to start by asking yourself, ‘What role is my phone primarily serving me?’