What's Wrong with Distracted Parenting? An Ethical Analysis

13 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2015 Last revised: 26 Apr 2016

Date Written: December 26, 2015


Parental overuse of portable technology, especially smart phones and tablets, poses a real danger to the welfare and development of children. In the past few years, research studies have documented this phenomenon whereby parents pay far more attention to hand-held electronic devices than to their children’s safety and developmental needs. The phenomenon is called distracted parenting. This article aims to identify the moral harm in distracted parenting. First, with the assistance of recent research, the phenomenon is defined. Then, an ethical analysis is undertaken from three perspectives: (i) utilitarian, (ii) pragmatist and (iii) care. Five recommendations for reforming distracted parents, each based upon one or more of the three ethical perspectives, conclude the analysis.

Keywords: early childhood development, technology, ethics

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Ralston, Shane J., What's Wrong with Distracted Parenting? An Ethical Analysis (December 26, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708445 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2708445

Shane J. Ralston (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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