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Eerik Mantere and Sanna Raudaskoski

In this chapter, a video-recorded mundane conversation between a 12-year-old daughter and her mother, who is simultaneously using a smartphone, is analysed in detail. The authors discovered that the overlapping use of a smartphone challenges the common norms of request and response, and in addition produces difficulties in interpretation of the present level of agreement. The authors introduce the term ‘sticky media device’ to define these difficulties and the divided attention between the interlocutor and the device. Attention stuck to the ‘sticky’ smartphone makes responses to the interlocutor slow, hesitant and ambiguous. According to the case analysed, it is challenging for the daughter to ‘unstick’ her mother’s attention from the device, which readily returns to the device, even when the daughter momentarily gains it. This case study raises the question of whether the phenomenon of the sticky media device, by confusing the traditional norms of conversation, can affect the way children learn the common norms of interaction.

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Sanna Raudaskoski, Eerik Mantere and Satu Valkonen

New digital media devices are changing interaction practices rapidly, and this also applies to families. This chapter considers the mechanisms that are essential for understanding and investigating the meaning of parental smartphone use for developing children. The authors introduce the concept of ‘bystander ignorance’, which illustrates the role of smartphone use from the point of view of a bystanding person. Compared to the use of other objects in the home environment, parental smartphone use is exceptional in two major ways: (1) it catches the gaze and draws the caregiver away from the ongoing interaction with the child, and (2) it conveys exceptionally few signs of the activity that the caregiver is engaged in. Based on previous research on the development of social and emotional skills, the authors argue that parental smartphone use resulting in children’s bystander ignorance may have some effects on child development, and there is an urgent need for further research on the matter.