“Where are you?” An observational exploration of parental technoference in public places in the US and Israel

Nelly Elias, Dafna Lemish, Shani Dalyot, Diana Floegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Recent studies point to the heavy rate of smartphone use by parents while they are accompanied by their children in public places This, in turn, leads to parental technoference, which raises concerns regarding children’s safety and their emotional wellbeing. Accordingly, the present study aims to ascertain the cross-cultural manifestations of parental technoference due to mobile phone use in playgrounds and eateries in two different national contexts: the US and Israel. Parents with children aged 2 to 6 years old were selected for observations. In the US we conducted 27 observations in playgrounds and 30 observations in eateries. In Israel, we conducted 20 observations in playgrounds and 38 observations in eateries. Our data suggest that during phone use, parents ignore children’s interactional initiatives and convey lack of attention and care to the point of sometimes being inattentive to their safety and emotional needs. Children, on their part, expressed frustration and disappointment, which are manifested at times in different forms of inappropriate or risky behavior, or withdrawal from any attempt to communicate with their parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-388
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Children and Media
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication


  • emotional wellbeing
  • mobile phone
  • Parent-child interaction
  • preschoolers
  • public places
  • safety
  • toddlers


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