Researchers from ECU’s School of Education set out to better understand how parents felt their use of digital media affected their children’s behavior and development, and what ways they could turn to support. were getting information.
Lead researcher and Ph.D. student Stephanie Milford said The results emphasized the importance of educating parents about the role of mobile media in shaping their child’s behavior.
A survey of 281 Australian parents found that 75 per cent of parents reported experiencing conflict, stress and family disagreements over mobile media use, yet almost 1 in 3 never asked children for help. Did not seek official guidelines on use of digital media by
Additionally, lack of exercise, difficulty completing tasks, excessive gaming, sleep problems, and social withdrawal were all common problems reported by at least 1 in 5 parents.
Mobile media use has previously been shown to be negatively correlated with child development, however, little is known about how parents approach their child’s mobile media use.
Where to go for advice?
Ms Milford said parents were recognizing the negative effects of mobile media on their child’s behavior, reporting that their children needed to focus, follow instructions, exercise self-control and handle emotions. It was getting tough.
“Surprisingly, while parents reported high rates of antagonistic behavior, such as arguing back, very little sourced information on screen time from reliable sources such as GPs, teachers or counselors,” she said. “Our results show that parents are using informal networks, which may indicate that official guidelines regarding digital media use are either difficult to understand or not fit for purpose.”
Ms Milford said there was a lot of conflicting advice, both official and unofficial, on how much time children should use digital media.
“We know that today’s parents struggle with no context because these tools didn’t exist when they were kids,” she said.
“Parents are doing their best by using a variety of strategies to try to curb their children’s use of mobile media.”
Some of the most common mediation strategies parents currently use:
- Limiting the amount of time a child uses their device (69.5% of respondents)
- Talking with the child about what they use their device for (68.1%)
- Checking websites and apps a child visits (66%)
- Taking mobile media as a punishment (58.5%)
Essential education for children and parents
Ms Milford points out that parents still have limited awareness of the impact of mobile media use on their child’s behavior and what is known as their ‘executive functioning’: important skills we all share in daily life. use to learn, work and manage.
“There needs to be a better job educating parents about how their children’s use of digital media can affect their behavior and development,” Ms Milford said. “Since children are naturally early users of mobile media because of its portability and interactivity, this area needs further research.”
Ms Milford said these research results show the need to develop digital media use guidelines that are easy for parents to understand and put into practice.
The research team is now launching a new survey that aims to further investigate parents’ knowledge, understanding and mediation practices of digital device use among children.
A preliminary investigation into parental perceptions around the impact of mobile media use on child behavior and executive functioning was published in Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies.