There are definitely perks to growing up in a time of fast moving technological advancement, but along with the advantages come the disadvantages. There is no doubt about it, technology can not only interfere with kids’ face-to-face interactions, but it can also monopolize their time. In today’s world parents have to create guidelines when it comes to technology so kids learn to use and not abuse the devices they own. So, while a lot of people would agree that kids need technology rules, what about their parents? Do they need these rules too? If so, what rules would kids make for their parents and vice versa?
Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Michigan released a study that addressed those very questions (along with others pertaining to household technology rules). They asked 249 parent-child pairs in the United States about their household’s most important technology rules and whether or not they were effective. They also asked kids, ages 10 to 17 years, what technology rules they would put in place for parents… some of the findings may surprise you.
Children’s Technology Expectations for Parents
Children gave about 326 specific rules for their parents. Approximately, 92% fell into 7 major themes. Below are the top expectations children have for their parents when it comes to technology:
1. Be Present (19%)
Pay attention to me. Basically, don’t use your devices when you’re spending quality time with me, like when I am trying to talk with you or we are doing something with one another.
"On a side note, being present was the most common theme for both parent and child."
2. Don’t Overshare (aka Sharent) (18%)
Don’t post stuff about me online without my permission.
3. Digital autonomy (11%)
Give me some space when I use my devices.
4. Digital moderation (10%)
Learn to balance technology and your everyday life.
5. Provide supervision (7%)
It’s okay to have rules that are for my own good and protection.
6. Don’t text and drive (6%)
Don’t text and drive, even when you’re at a red light.
7. Don’t be a hypocrite (6%)
Practice what you preach. If I can’t use my phone at dinner, neither can you - so put it away.
So there you have it, what kids report they want from their parents when it comes to technology. Now let’s shift gears and take a look at what parents want from their kids.
Parent’s Technology Expectations for Themselves and Their Children
Parents gave about 412 rules for their children. Approximately, 91% fell into 10 major themes. Below are the top expectations parents have for their children when it comes to technology:
1. Be Present (25%)
Put the device away when we are talking or doing something together.
2. Supervise (21%)
Household technology rules that are enforced.
3. Privacy (9%)
Play it smart when you are online and don’t share personal identification information.
4. Moderate Use (7%)
Learn how to use your devices in moderation and balance usage with your other activities.
5. No Oversharing (7%)
Be respectful of privacy and don’t share too much information online.
6. Model appropriate electronic use for children (7%)
Be a leader and model the way for appropriate device usage.
7. Time-bound (5%),
Set limits for your phone use.
8. Not while Driving (3%)
Don’t use the phone when you are driving and don’t text (not even at a traffic light).
9. Be Kind (3%)
Treat others with respect and kindness online.
10. No Sexual Content (3%)
Don’t share or view sexually explicit photos or videos.
Another interesting finding in this study was that parents reported that it’s okay to have a different set of standards for themselves than for their kids, but according to the kids that’s hypocritical. Also, in regards to expectations, children reported that it was easier to follow the rules when families had developed them together and when everyone had to follow them.
Another area this study delved into was which household technology rules were more or less difficult to enforce. Overall, families reported rules that prohibited technology or social media use entirely, such as no using certain apps or video games were easier to enforce than rules that prohibited use of electronic devices in particular situations, such as no texting friends after a certain time. One of the researchers noted it was surprising to find that it’s easier for kids to accept not being permitted to use a particular app as opposed to being limited to using it at certain times.
In conclusion, when you look at the overall findings, this study shows parents and children are virtually in the same boat when it comes to household technological expectations. The primary area of agreement was the need for each other to “be present”. That concept speaks volumes about how we want our kids to pay attention to us and in return they want us to pay attention to them. Here is a quick change you can make in your household right now to ensure you have some technology free time with your family - create a place to set aside the electronic devices when you get home. Put them off limits for a specified amount of time, perhaps until after dinner. Make it a household priority to be present and spend quality time with one another.
University of Washington. "What tech usage rules would kids make for their parents?." ScienceDaily. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160308135122.htm>.