Why parents fail to avoid conflict with children over their mobile use

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New Delhi- Children using smartphones and tablets are causing conflict and heated arguments in most families, underscoring the need for official guidelines to help parents who only attack their children’s mobile use, said researchers.

As many parents will agree, mobile use by children and teenagers is a major source of family arguments.

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia has shed light on the issue to help ‘millennial parents’ who are literally inventing as they go when it comes to using digital media in the home.

“Surprisingly, while parents reported high rates of oppositional behaviors, such as arguing, very little information about screen time was obtained from reliable sources such as GPs, teachers or counsellors,” said lead researcher Stephanie Milford.

The findings, published in the journal Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, underscore the importance of educating parents about the role mobile media played in shaping their child’s behavior.

A survey of 281 Australian parents found that 75% of parents said they had experienced family conflict, tension and disagreements over mobile media use, but almost one in three had never sought using official guidelines on the use of digital media by children.

Additionally, lack of exercise, difficulty completing tasks, excessive gambling, sleep problems and social withdrawal were all common issues reported by at least 1 in 5 parents.

Parents acknowledged the negative impacts of mobile media on their child’s behavior and reported that their children found it more difficult to concentrate, follow instructions, control themselves and manage their emotions.

“Our results show that parents use informal networks, which could indicate that official guidelines for using digital media are either difficult to understand or inadequate,” Milford noted.

There was a huge amount of conflicting advice, official and unofficial, about how long children should use digital media.

“We know moms and dads today struggle without a frame of reference because those devices didn’t exist when they were kids,” she said.

“Parents are doing their best using a range of strategies they’ve heard about to try to limit their children’s use of mobile media.”

“It’s clear that better work needs to be done to educate parents about how their children’s use of digital media could affect their behavior and development,” Ms Milford said.

The results show the need to develop guidelines on the use of digital media that are easy for parents to understand and put into practice. (IANS)

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