Technology: Can it bring you and your child closer together?

Technology: Can it bring you and your child closer together? The Australian Kids and Technology Survey explores the role of technology in the lives of Aussie kids.

31 Mar 2017

Kids and Tech: An inevitable duo

The nineties were a simpler time for children. Kids clutched teddy bears, sport was their favourite hobby and the only barrier to face time with a parent was their work schedule and sleep. The world has become an almost unrecognisable place since then. The rise of technology has had a dramatic impact on modern day children who grow up cuddling iPads, playing sport on the PlayStation instead of outdoors, and are even known to spend time with their technology devices over peers and parents.

However, according to the Real Insurance Australian Kids and Technology report parents are also noticing the immense benefits technology can have for their kids and teens. What’s certainly important is that regardless of the pros and cons of technology use, 92.9% of parents agree that there must be a balance between digital and physical play and interaction.

The family that uses tech together, stays together

The concept of children using technology can often be met with negative connotations, however the overwhelming majority of parents agree or strongly agree that engaging with their children through technology and media can enhance learning (91.9%). In which case it seems that technology could be serving the purpose of a teacher, as well as a tool for parents to spend more time with their young ones. This is evident when we consider that more than half (54.3%) of parents engage with their kids during their screen time either all or almost all of the time. Unsurprisingly for teenagers though, this figure rapidly drops to three in ten (30.7%).

With this in mind, it’s fair to say that technology is not always a barrier for parents to connect with their children despite assumptions to the contrary.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or so the saying goes. With three in five (60.8%) parents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they worry too much time is spent at home with family members isolated in their own tech cocoons, the vast majority (82.9%) claim to find great ways to spend time together without technological devices. When it comes to the modern day Aussie households, parents are actively trying to lead by example when technology is concerned, the large majority (73.5%) of respondents agreeing that they consciously limit their screen time when their children are around.

However, it appears a lot of parents may have work to do before they can consider themselves a tech role model. Despite trying to pave the way and setting standards for the use of technology at home, almost two thirds (63.4%) of parents agree or strongly agree that they spend more time than they would like using their devices, or that they are just as addicted to using these devices as their children (53.0%).

Is tech the new nanny?

It could be argued that technology is quickly becoming the modern-day babysitter, especially as it becomes socially acceptable for children to have more screen time. In fact, exactly half of Aussie parents (50.0%) acknowledge that technology keeps their children entertained during school holidays, and around two in five appreciate the distraction technology serve for children while travelling on holiday (39.8%) or whilst parents are busy (39.0%).

Yet, when we reflect on the study it appears two thirds of parents (63.4%) are firm believers that pacifying their children with technology is passive parenting. And it seems that an overwhelming majority of parents (90.1%) don’t let their children have free reign when it comes to using technology, but believe that children under the age of five should only use devices under strict parental supervision.

Tech and tantrums

These days it isn’t abnormal to see a child engrossed in a technological screen of some sort, whether this is at a café, in a doctor’s waiting room or on the morning commute. Many people have no doubt questioned “How long could children go without their phone or other technology?”

Well, it might (or might not) surprise you that close to three in five (58.0%) parents have seen their children have a tantrum of some degree when they insisted on limiting their use of technology.

And yet, children today are not necessarily dependent on technology with close to half (45.6%) of parents confident that their children would miss technology but would adjust fine without it for one day, while around one quarter (26.4%) say they would hardly notice it.

While technology has become an integral part of our everyday life, it is a giant we can no longer ignore, no matter what stage of life we are at. Although technology has brought Australian parents new challenges to overcome, it has also provided a range of new opportunities to connect, learn and enrich relationships between parent and child and therefore when used correctly, should be celebrated and embraced.

Download full research report