You see it happening all the time – a parent steps away for a moment to take a quick call, return a friend’s text, double check a fact or piece of trivia online – all just a glance and finger swipe away.

No one disagrees that texting while driving can have deadly consequences.  But what about when you’re parenting a child?

While social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are bringing family and friends closer across the world, it’s creating a dangerous divide between parents and their children right in front of them.

Researchers and experts in child and family psychology analyzing the impact on today’s families have given it a name – Distracted Parenting – and are compiling disturbing observations from ongoing studies:

• A mother places her cell phone on the top of a stroller, between her and her baby.

• A father glances down at his smart phone and misses his daughter’s line at her school play.

• Parents and children engrossed in their own digital devices as they sit across from each other at a fast food restaurant.

Only time will tell how these mini moments of disconnect may affect parent-child relationships in the long run. At Weiss Pediatric Care, we urge parents to “look up” and think twice about the message constantly using smart phones sends to their kids – that what’s happening on the small screen is more important than what’s happening in the present, that their children are not as interesting or compelling as whoever or whatever is calling on the device.

We believe the ever increasing use of smart phones in our society represents an important tipping point in parenting: Technology has granted us one of the most efficient ways to get through our monumental to-do lists, but it’s up to us to remain focused in the present and ensure our kids don’t get lost or hurt in the shuffle.

That’s why we at Weiss Pediatric Care ask that parents refrain from using digital devices while in our office – we want to ensure parents and their children have the most meaningful visit possible. For more information, I encourage you to read the NPR report,  “For The Children’s Sake, Put Down That Smartphone”.