Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Technology Rules That Teens Would Set for Their Parents

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Science Daily.

A new study on family technology rules is among the first to explore children's expectations for parents' technology use -- revealing kids' feelings about fairness and 'oversharing' and the most effective types of household technology rules.

Put your phone away when I'm talking to you. Don't text while you're driving -- not even at red lights. Stop posting photos of me without my permission. These are some of the rules for Internet and smartphone use that kids would set for their parents, according researchers at the University of Washington and University of Michigan.

The researchers surveyed 249 families with children between the ages of 10 and 17 about their household's most important technology rules and expectations, as well as what made those rules easier or harder to follow.

The paper -- which is among the first to explore children's expectations for parents' technology use -- was presented in March at the Association for Computing Machinery's conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in San Francisco. The surveys revealed kids' feelings about fairness and "oversharing," the most effective types of technology rules and families' most common approaches.

"Managing kids' technology use was once much easier for parents -- they switched off the television when a show was over or kept an eye on kids as they used the family computer in the living room," said lead author Alexis Hiniker, a UW doctoral student in Human Centered Design and Engineering. "But now that so many family members have phones with them at all times, it's become harder and harder to set those boundaries."

When researchers asked kids what technology rules they wished their parents would follow -- a less common line of inquiry -- the answers fell into seven general categories:

  • Be present -- Children felt there should be no technology at all in certain situations, such as when a child is trying to talk to a parent
  • Child autonomy -- Parents should allow children to make their own decisions about technology use without interference
  • Moderate use -- Parents should use technology in moderation and in balance with other activities
  • Supervise children -- Parents should establish and enforce technology-related rules for children's own protection
  • Not while driving -- Parents should not text while driving or sitting at a traffic light
  • No hypocrisy -- Parents should practice what they preach, such as staying off the Internet at mealtimes
  • No oversharing -- Parents shouldn't share information online about their children without explicit permission

"Twice as many children as parents expressed concerns about family members oversharing personal information about them on Facebook and other social media without permission," said co-author Sarita Schoenebeck, assistant professor in the University of Michigan's School of Information. "Many children said they found that content embarrassing and felt frustrated when their parents continued to do it."

The most common expectation cited by children revolved around "being present" in certain social settings, such as when a family member was talking or during meals or when they were involved in certain activities. Parents, on the other hand, tended to prioritize privacy rules to prevent children from putting themselves at risk by disclosing personal information online.

The study also examined which types of household rules were more or less difficult to enforce. Families reported that rules prohibiting certain technology or social media uses entirely -- such as no using Snapchat or banning a particular video game -- were easier to follow and enforce than rules that aim to prevent technology use in certain situations -- such as no phones at church or no texting with friends after a certain time.

Source: University of Washington via Science Daily

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