Distracted Daycare and Child Welfare: An Ethical Analysis

Ethics and Social Welfare 14 (3):315-330 (2020)
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Parental overuse of portable technology poses a bonafide threat to the welfare and development of children. In the past decade, researchers have documented this phenomenon whereby parents pay far more attention to handheld electronic devices than to their children's safety and developmental needs. What most studies have failed to examine is the extent to which workers in privately owned and operated daycares also exhibit technology-induced distracted behavior. This article aims to identify the moral harm of caregivers' distracted behaviour in a private daycare setting or, more simply, the welfare effects of distracted daycare. First, with the assistance of recent research, the phenomenon of distracted caregiving is defined. Then, the documented harms of distracted caregiving in a daycare setting are catalogued. Next, an ethical analysis of the phenomenon of distracted daycare working is undertaken from four normative ethical perspectives: (i) ethical egoism, (ii) utilitarianism, (iii) principlism and (iv) care ethics. Five recommendations for reforming distracted daycares, each based upon one or more of the four ethical perspectives, inform the article's conclusions.

Author's Profile

Shane Ralston
University of Ottawa (PhD)


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