SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Title: Demographic Differences in Parental Mediation Adolescents’ Mobile Device Use (Poster)
Event: Technology, Media, & Child Development
Authors: Hua Luo, Joanna C. Yau, Stephanie Reich
Abstract: Technology ownership and usage are prevalent among adolescents. The proliferation of mobile devices increases parental concerns about teenagers’ use of technology that might negatively affect child development and expose child to unhealthy contents, cyberbullying, predators and other potential dangers (e.g., Mesch, 2009; Davis, 2012; Vaterlaus et al., 2014). In response, many parents create and enforce rules, focusing on time limits for technology use and what content can be consumed (Ramirez et al, 2010; Vandewater et al, 2005) known as media mediation. Prior research on parental mediation of media has largely focused on television and computer use (e.g., Lwina, Stanaland & Miyazaki, 2008), with far less focused on mobile technology. To better understand parental mediation of newer technologies, like smartphone and tablets, this study examines parental rules and restrictions for 81 young adolescents’ (11-14 years, M=12.4 (SD=1.3)) mobile device use. Using self-reported surveys of family device rules, we explore how teen and family demographic characteristics are related to parental mediation of mobile technology use.
Tweens reported on 12 parental restrictions and behaviors for device use (e.g. selection of which apps can be installed, adding or friending parents on social media accounts, permission to use specific platforms). Participants could also specify no rules or list other rules or behaviors.
On average, teens reported 4.12 (SD =3.05) rules for their device use. The most common rules were not using phones during mealtime (51.85%), setting time limits for phones use (46.91%) and gaining permission to use specific social media platforms (46.91%). The number and types of rules did not differ by child age or child gender. However, parents with higher educational attainment used more rules. For instance, parents with graduate degrees were more likely to require phones be turned off at night (x2=10.33, p =0.001) and were marginally more likely to prohibit phones during mealtimes (x2=3.22, p =0.073). There were also differences in the total number of rules among ethnic and racial groups, F(5, 75)= 3.09, p = 0.014. Post hoc two-tailed pairwise comparisons show that Caucasian students had significantly more rules than Hispanic students (p = 0.037). As reported, Caucasian teenagers have an average of 7.14 rules (SD =1.57) whereas Hispanic adolescents have an average of 3.48 rules (SD =3.43). Aligning with previous literature, associations between adolescents’ ethnicity and specific kinds of rules enforcement were observed (e.g., Lauricella et al, 2016). Using Fisher’s Exact test, we found that parents’ rules regarding specific apps (p =0.016), social media platforms (p =0.001), and using phones during meal time (p =0.016) were depended on teens’ ethnic group.
Like older technology (TV, computers), mobile devices also involve parental mediation, with time limits (e.g., total, during meals) being the most common. Importantly, parental mediation appears to be different by ethnicity/race and among families with high parental educational attainment. Although technology is rapidly changing, parents’ mediation of use appears to be keeping pace.