Poor Baby – Daddy’s Got a Text Message

In “Your Phone vs. Your Heart” (Sunday Review, March 24), Barbara L. Fredrickson cautions parents that “texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child” leaves “life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.”

Epigenetics aside, young children learn through imitation and human relationships. When parents habitually dote on their phones or use their iPads to entertain their babies, they deny them the chance to engage with the three-dimensional world and connect to those in it.

Are we putting kids in solitary confinement when what they crave is human interaction and the toddler equivalent of vocational skills? Small children don’t need to imitate us pushing buttons or staring at a light source; they need to imitate us getting dressed, sweeping the floor and empathizing with others. If Ms. Fredrickson’s research is right — “the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become” — then future generations have a lot more to worry about than obesity.

Washington, March 24, 2013

The writer is co-author of “Trees Make the Best Mobiles: Simple Ways to Raise Your Child in a Complex World.”

To read the letter in the New York Times, click here.