Digital media can make families closer
Digital media and technology can bring families closer together, according to a new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Written by Keith McDonald
Parenting for a Digital Future
It’s a common view that digital technology is ruining family life. Family members have become ‘glued’ to their mobile devices, separating them from each other and disrupting normal modes of communication.
However, a new Parenting for a Digital Future report from LSE argues for the opposite effect. It claims that digital activities such as watching films, playing games and keeping in touch via calls and messaging apps can bring families closer together.
By streaming TV content and using educational technology together, families are adapting their habits to reflect an increasingly digital environment.
The report also finds that the communication styles associated with digital media tend to accompany more traditional methods of interacting with each other rather than displacing them.
Digital media can also help parents educate themselves on issues relating to their children, the report says.
Most parents use the internet at least once a month. Around half use it for educational purposes and around a third search for health information relating to their child.
However, parents would like more support regarding digital media use. While around a quarter of those surveyed would usually turn to their own parents for advice, only 9% said they would consult them on these digital issues.
Justine Roberts, the Founder and CEO of popular website Mumsnet, says approaches can vary depending on parents’ own exposure to digital media. While parents who grew up without the internet can be mystified by it, web-savvy parents are more wary and have stricter rules.
“The educational potential of the web is welcomed by all”, she said. “Good advice grounded in real families’ lives is a huge help, and – as this report notes – parents would welcome more well-informed, tailored support.”
The report authors say policymakers must now consider how to communicate guidance on digital matters in ways that are relevant to the specific ages and needs of children.
LSE Professor Sonia Livingstone, who led the research team, says a positive change in attitude towards digital media could be underpinned by a better support strategy.
“Rather than worrying about the overall amount of ‘screen time’ children get, it might be better to support parents, many of whom are ‘digital natives’ themselves, in deciding whether, when and why particular digital activities help or harm their child, and what to do about it”, she said.
source: University of London