Do children imitate the parents when they use mobile devices?

We made a questionnaire survey with 1283 parents about their 0-8 year-old children’s digital activities, the parents’ reactions, attitudes and beliefs regarding the child’s device use, and how intensively parents use/ are attached to their own mobile phones.

We found that even one-year-old children use digital devices in a quite high proportion (one third of them), and this proportion is 60% in 4-year-olds. The results also show that the typical age when children start to use these devices is becoming lower and lower.

Additionally, parents’ attitudes and behavior influence their children’s device use a lot. Children spend more time with mobile phones/tablets if the parents feel more attached to their own mobile phone, suggesting that the parent is a role model for the child. Of course, parents also affect children’s digital activity more directly: if the parents are more permissive or they teach their children how to use digital devices, than the children use the devices more. Also, if parents regard the early use of mobiles/tablets as being less harmful and more beneficial, then their children use digital devices more.

Therefore, if we want to change children’s digital device use (e.g. decrease the time spent on it), we can achieve this through influencing their parents’ attitudes, beliefs and behavior.

The citation of the original publication of this study:

Konok, V. & Miklósi, Á. (under revision) Digital parenting style and role modelling: parental influences on children’s use of mobile touch screen devices. Journal of Children and Media.