Do mobile devices make parenting easier?

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Flickr: David Tao

We were reading on the KQED website about an interesting study that was recently published. The topic was to discover how parents use technology as a parenting tool. Is it to reward? to educate? to occupy? The results were interesting.

There are three main finding from the study (excerpt from KQED):

  • In contrast to the popular press image that mobile technology is the new pacifier used to calm and quiet down children, our survey shows that parents today have a range of tools at their disposal and other tools are used more often than mobile technologies. Parents are more likely to use toys or activities (88%), books (79%), and TV (78%) when they need to keep children occupied than mobile media devices like smartphones or iPads (37% among those who have one).
  • Parents have encyclopedias full of information at their fingertips, storybooks on their Kindles, and a selection of games in their pocket, yet for most parents media is not their number one concern, it is not something that they often have family conflict about, and most parents say new mobile devices do not make parenting easier. Fewer parents were concerned with the impact of media on their children especially compared to more global issues like health, nutrition, and social emotional skills.  Most parents (70%) say smartphones and tablets do not make parenting easier.  Also, media use does not cause family conflicts.
  • Yes, young children spend considerable amounts of time with screen media (see Common Sense Media, 2011), but so do their parents.  And it seems that parents of young children may be setting the stage for the home media environment that their young children will grow up in. Nearly 40% of families were “media centric“ families.  These families have parents who themselves consume an average of 11 hours of screen media a day.  Most of these parents (80%) say they are “very” or “somewhat” likely to use TV to keep their child occupied when they need to get something done at home.  Many children in these families (44%) have TVs in their bedroom and children spend an average of 4.5 hours with screen media per day.  In contrast, “media light” families consist of parents who spend less than two hours per day with screen media.  These families enjoy watching TV or movies together as a family “a lot” and are less likely to use TV when getting their child ready for bed.  Children in these families spend an hour and a half with media each day.

Do you think this is surprising? Do you feel that mobile devices should make the parents job easier? How? Let us know as a comment below.


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