Parents set the tone for healthy technology use among teens, study says


Mother and father play a serious function in figuring out whether or not teenagers’ use of digital expertise is wholesome or places their psychological and bodily well being in danger, in accordance with a brand new examine from the College of Wisconsin Faculty of Medication and Public Well being.

The big, nationwide examine was led by Dr Megan Moreno, professor of pediatrics and head of the Social Media and Adolescent Well being Analysis Group on the Faculty of Medication and Public Well being and adolescent well being doctor, UW Well being Children. Researchers appeared on the digital media use and household dynamics of practically 4000 pairs, every consisting of a mother or father and a teen.

They discovered that roughly 63% of teenagers fell into the “household engaged” group and had a wholesome relationship with expertise. The opposite 37 p.c have been categorized as “in danger.” These dangers included that their dad and mom didn’t set a great instance with their very own social media use and had guidelines that revolved round display time or no guidelines in any respect.

Though some system options make display time straightforward for fogeys to measure, based mostly on the findings of the examine, Moreno cautions in opposition to utilizing display time as a sole indicator of whether or not expertise use is wholesome.

“We discovered that [household] guidelines that targeted on the content material of expertise, that targeted on ongoing communication with dad and mom -; these guidelines have been more practical than guidelines round display time,” mentioned Dr Moreno.

As with all parenting matters, it is crucial for fogeys to be guided by an understanding of the distinctive wants of their youngster, and to comprehend the affect that they themselves have as function fashions, she explains.

Our examine illustrates that the dangers and advantages of expertise use should not the identical for each particular person adolescent. Mother and father set the tone for wholesome expertise use, and this consists of how they use their very own telephones. [Dr Moreno]

The examine comes following pandemic lockdowns and in an period when digital communication is extra central than ever to the lives of teenagers: roughly 95% have their very own smartphone and 88% have entry to a pc at dwelling.

The researchers surveyed the teenagers and their dad and mom individually utilizing a web-based instrument, then correlated the solutions. They measured parental involvement by whether or not the family had media guidelines, how a lot dad and mom used social media, and the parent-child relationship. Well being outcomes for teenagers included bodily exercise, sleep, problematic web use, and psychological well being. Effectively-being was measured by psychological wellness, communication and empathy. Additionally they requested whether or not the family-owned expertise units or whether or not the teenagers did.

The researchers used a technique known as Latent Class Evaluation to type teenagers into two teams. The “household engaged” teenagers have been extra prone to have family-owned units, family media guidelines centered on content material, constructive mother or father relationships, and decrease parental social media use. These teenagers reported higher well being outcomes and well-being indicators. For instance, 70% of this group confirmed wholesome attitudes towards their physique picture. They have been additionally extra prone to “co-watch” content material with their dad and mom.

The “in danger” teenagers reported larger charges of private possession of units. Additionally they had larger charges of melancholy (56%), nervousness (69%), unhealthy physique picture (84%), and worry of lacking out (85%). Their dad and mom tended to make use of social media extra ceaselessly than dad and mom within the “engaged” group.

The excellent news for fogeys is that there are some key behaviors which are related to higher well-being round expertise use. First, contemplate family-owned expertise units, slightly than individually owned. Second, create and preserve family guidelines centered on content material, not display time. Third, dad and mom ought to pay attention to their very own expertise use, significantly when at dwelling and when utilizing social media. [Dr Moreno]

Different members of the analysis staff are Dr Yalda Uhls, of College of California Los Angeles, and Kole Binger, BS, Qianqian Zhao, MS, Dr Jen Eickhoff, and Matt Minich, MS, of College of Wisconsin-Madison.


Journal reference:

Moreno, M.A., et al. (2022) Digital Know-how and Media Use by Adolescents: Latent Class Evaluation. Journal of Medical Web Analysis: Parenting and Pediatrics.

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