Parents as Digital Role Models

The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging – Margaret Heffernan, Entrepreneur, CEO, Writer and Speaker

My blog’s topic revolves around the situation that “does the child get addictions from the phone due to the parent’s self interest?”

In recent years, the relationship between parents and children has profoundly changed due to the digital age. Parenting itself has become problematic in a way that differs sharply from the past.

Parenting has never been easy. But the widespread adoption of smartphones and rise in and increased access of children to the internet has introduced a new challenge in parenthood.

From a sociological point of view it’s important to stress upon the reasons that may lead adults to allow their children to use phones. So, the answer to this question is to communicate with each other. Due to this pandemic and Covid-19 situation, children’s classes and exams are held online and they need laptops or phones for the same, to watch movies or cartoons, play games, listen to music, work and much more. Secondly, since i live in a joint family, I have observed my neighbors, relatives and my family’s kids to note that parents give mobile phones to their children when guests arrive in order to maintain peace. This is done so they won’t create any trouble for parents, or while eating food. This is also noticed when mothers have to take an afternoon nap so that their children don’t disturb them. Thirdly, working parents who are burdened with office, household and childcare work.

Not only do our phones become an integral part of our lives, but our phone use can also become an addiction, or at least a strong habit. For example a research showed that an average phone user checks their phone 80 times per day. As individuals experience boredom or lack interest in what's happening around them, they tend to use their phones to entertain themselves. Many individuals experience anxiety over being without their phone.

I would like to talk about some statistics.

  • Most children aged between 5-11 watch Youtube videos as it is a key platform for both young and older kids. As it can be used for educational purpose simultaneously for entertainment, research conducted by (Broke Auxierv and Monica Anderson).
  • 73% of the parents used mobile phones during mealtime with their children. 35% of caregivers were on the phone 1 out of 5 mins during the time when they were in park. 36% of the parents spent too much time on the phone. Using more mobile phones can cause distractions and problems during parenting according to the report on Technoference: Parent Mobile Device Use and Implications for Children and Parent–Child Relationships
The findings suggest that excessive smartphone use also is associated with the stress of parenting. We need to urgently start raising awareness among parents that their behaviors possibly have a connection with their children’s behaviors. Mobile phones can addict anyone and not only adult people and also young people The Internet is not only a source of information but a medium that connects almost every aspect of our life. The Internet is a place of great ease and connectivity, but also a place of great vulnerability and parents should think about the impact of using a mobile phone.

When you go online, the internet can be wonderful for kids since they can use it to research for school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. But online access also comes with risks, like inappropriate content, cyber bullying. As each coin has two sides, usage of internet also comes with several advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, its responsibility of the parents to ensure the safety of the children.

Using smartphones at younger age hampers the kid's growth and development and affect their mind and eyes. The right guidance and supervision is necessary, otherwise children will be exposed to risks such as gaming addiction. Parents should stress more on the topic of screen time otherwise if left unnoticed it will cause several health problems such as weak eyesight, obesity, headache, back ache. Studies of children exposed to violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior. Parents are noticing changes in their children's behavior as well. Poor behavior in the children is largely associated with the smartphone addictions of their parents, and even more strongly associated with the mother’s smartphone use than the father’s phone.

It's really important for parents that they recognize the importance of digital parenting in such globalized world and help your children learn to use technology safety and positivity. We can use parental controls which are software and tools that allow parents to set controls on their children’s internet use. They are a great way of helping in preventing children from accessing unsuitable content online. Parents could talk to friends and family about how they manage their children's digital lives. Make digital issues part of everyday conversation. Ask your child about whether the issues they face are different online and offline. They can use parental controls which are software and tools that allow parents to set controls on their children’s internet use. They are a great way of helping in preventing children from accessing unsuitable content online.

It is clear that parent distraction with phones and mobile devices while around children has become common. This is concerning, as many research suggests that this desensitize the child, leads to fewer verbal and nonverbal interactions, less coordinated parenting and dissatisfaction with time spent together and negative child reactions (e.g., problem behaviors).

Anisha Hans
Anisha Hans

My name is Anisha Hans and I am working as a community manager at YOLO. I graduated from G D Goenka University in B.A sociology and currently pursuing Masters in sociology from the same University. A budding sociologist and have interest in Feminist theories and media.