Most Parents Believe That Technology Has Made Parenting More Difficult

According to new research, four out of five American parents believe it is more difficult to raise children today than it was when they were growing up.

The survey polled 2,000 American parents with school-aged children to see how they handle their children in today’s digital age, and 80 percent agreed that parenting is more difficult than it was 30 years ago because of the role technology plays in our daily lives.

Kids operating a tablet

Eighty-six percent of parents polled agreed that technology has caused children to “grow up” much faster.

Parents revealed that their children received their first internet-connected device when they were only seven years old. Just under a quarter of respondents (23%) said they gave their child internet access between the ages of three and six.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Smith Micro Software by OnePoll, discovered that kids spend an average of 43 percent of their free time on some type of internet-connected device — and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated it.

Due to the limitations imposed by the pandemic, four out of five parents agreed that they have allowed their children to have more screen time to keep them entertained. In fact, four out of ten parents polled said their child spends five or more hours per day watching entertainment-related screen time.

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To help prepare their children for the potential dangers lurking on the internet, 86 percent of parents said they talk to their children about their online safety on a regular basis — and for good reason. When asked what is most concerning about their child’s well-being, 31% of parents said physical safety, while nearly the same number (30%) said their child’s online safety is the most concerning.

Almost nine out of ten (88 percent) of parents polled agreed that it is their responsibility to monitor and/or control their child’s online activity. Surprisingly, more than half (54 percent) of the same parents believe that monitoring, tracking, and/or controlling their child’s online activity is a breach of trust.

Negative or dangerous interactions on social media (55 percent) and viewing inappropriate content were the top concerns for their online safety (54 percent ). Cyberbullying (38%) and violent video game play (23%) were cited as concerns by a much smaller proportion of parents.

Seventy-one percent of parents report that their children challenge them and know more about online safety than they do.

With these challenges come disagreements about their online presence, with the main point of contention being how much time their children spend online.

Fifty-five percent of parents admitted to arguing with their children about how much time they spend online, while slightly less than half (47 percent) admitted to arguing with their children about what they do online.

Parents use a variety of digital parenting techniques and technologies to keep their children safe online. 43% of parents use a family media plan to personalize how screen time limits and digital media consumption are managed, while the same percentage impose daily limits to proactively manage screen time.

Parental control software (42%), content filters (39%), and even designated screen-free zones around the house are additional safety measures that parents rely on (36 percent).


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