Baby Doc’s Screen Time is Out of Control

Dear Mamas,

Our pediatrician’s practice recently switched over to computer charting and it’s driving me nuts! The first experience was a sick visit with my preschooler and we saw a different doctor in the practice — not our regular one. After a quick exam, he spent the rest of the visit typing into his laptop while describing what he found in my son’s throat and the antibiotic he was prescribing.

He never once made eye contact which seemed really weird, but I chalked it up to a different doctor who didn’t know our family.

The next time was the 1-year well visit for my daughter with our regular doc and it was almost the same way! She was a little more chatty during the exam, but as soon as it was finished she began clicking away on her laptop while we talked. It was super distracting for me — and must have been for her, too. I left feeling like we’d never really gotten her full attention after the exam part of the visit.

I’m pretty happy with these doctors otherwise and I don’t really want to switch. After all, this probably is happening everywhere, right? Can I politely ask her to wait until the visit is over before she types her report? What’s the protocol?



What a great question for our times, Sara! We read lots of advice about limiting screen time for the littles, but all too often we forget to apply it to ourselves and the adults in our lives.

It IS rude and distracting when a provider (or anyone) types away, staring at a screen while carrying on a conversation. And it’s even worse when the subject is the health of your precious child! Sadly, it’s a sign of the search for increased efficiency in our health care system that sometimes overshadows the need for personal relationship and communication. Pediatrician friends have shared how conflicted they are about charting electronically during the office visit, but they don’t see an easy way around it.

If only there was a pat answer to a problem that’s only going to get bigger, but  maybe some simple strategies can help:

First, you can absolutely request that your doc hold off until the visit is over. Be honest and explain that it’s distracting for you and interferes with getting your concerns addressed. Approach it in terms of teamwork; you and she are working together to keep your child healthy and her screen time is getting in the way. I bet she’ll see it your way.

If that isn’t effective, try altering your behavior and body language in order to change hers.

Look away when she’s clicking or attending to the screen rather than to you and your child. Don’t respond to her questions or comments as long as she’s entering data, instead wait ’til she stops and makes eye contact before answering. If she’s given you an explanation while typing, pause and say “excuse me”? after she’s finished. This strategy may not work immediately, but stick with it for a few visits. Consider it part of the training process.

When it’s taking her longer to accomplish the goals of the appointment with the intrusion than without it she’s likely to change her style. We call that “extinguishing the undesired behavior” — without her even realizing it!

If all else fails and your frustration leads you to find a new team member, don’t hesitate to ask whether the office procedure is to chart electronically during the visit. Then choose your doctor accordingly.

Hope this helps!

~ The Mamas



Email This Post Email This Post

Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply




With One or Both of Us

Go to & for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

The Five Second Rule: True Or False?

If you pick it up within five seconds, you can eat it, right?

Watch This!

Teach your kids to step in and step up when they see a classmate being teased. Show them how to respond and tell them what to say. Let's try to make our world a little kinder and a little warmer. Please?

What You Said

  • FirstBarry: I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn...
  • Rebecca Benham: My son woke up with bumps on his stomach help
  • Chelie Belie: AND up the street there’s a psychotic IT that is awe-struck by me! Walks by my property carrying...
  • Chelie Belie: I live next door to Ned Flanders–how would you like that??
  • Maggie sullivan: I have a neighbor, will holler and wave at me if i am near porch but if i try to sit in the yard, or...
  • Ellen Schrier: Thank you so much! Please come back often!
  • Ellen Schrier: Hi Lisa, Sorry for the very late response. We are sorry to hear about your daughter and are sure that...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.