The advancement of technology has meant that nearly every aspect of our lives is accessible at our very fingertips, changing everything from how we connect with each other to how we live our day-to-day lives. The role of tech in parenting, family and relationships continually evolves but how exactly are we using tech in our family life and, more so, how are we feeling about the use of tech in our lives?
The Real Insurance Parents and Technology Survey is the tenth instalment in a series of national studies to investigate the shifting values and concerns affecting Australian families. This chapter provides particular insight into how Australian parents view technology, the impact it has on both them and their children and what effect it is having on ‘traditional’ family time.
There’s no denying that kids get a bad rap for spending too much time on their phones; however, are they the only ones guilty of a little too much screen time? According to the results of this survey, almost two thirds of Aussie parents (61.9%) admit that they’re addicted to their phones. On average, parents are spending 23 minutes on the phone before falling asleep, and 10 minutes before getting out of bed of a morning.
With all this screen time, three in five (59.7%) parents have said that they do sometimes feel guilty that this may have an effect on family time, with a further 66.8 per cent saying the time that could be spent with their children is being robbed by their use of technology.
To track or not to track?
Tech doesn’t just keep us connected in a social capacity, it’s also allowing us to keep tabs on each other so we know where people are and ensure that they are safe.
Mums and dads are big players in this space, with just over a third (36.0%) of parents with children who own a smartphone and/or smart watch saying they use phone GPS tracking apps to know where their children are, with a further third (33.5%) saying they would consider using them.
So why are parents tracking? The most common reasons coming out of the survey were to know their children’s whereabouts when away from home (57.8%), and when they had specific concerns about what they might be doing, or who they might be with (53.0%).
With the ability to track the whereabouts of children at all times, how can parents achieve the balance between getting peace of mind on the health and safety of children, and being too overprotective? Across the board, parents who do use tracking apps say they would stop when their children turned 15, with three quarters (74.9%) of respondents worrying that tracking their children will lead to them being over protected and becoming too dependent. Similarly, 73.6 per cent of respondents believe that legislation should be implemented to control how parents can use these technologies to track their children once they become teenagers.
As technology continues to advance, so do the possibilities of tracking and knowing the whereabouts of our family members, which don’t just stop at phones. One-in-ten (10.2%) parents say they would consider medically approved tech implants if it meant they could monitor their children’s health and safety, and three-in-ten (31.4%) believe the concept is interesting but would like to find out more before considering the use of them.
Accept or decline that friend request?
Whilst many teenagers might cringe at the thought of having their parents as “friends” online, two-in-three parents (66.0%) are connected with their kids on social media, with Facebook reigning as the most popular platform (81.8%).
Three-in-five (59.3%) have admitted they use social media platforms so they can keep track of what is happening in their children’s lives, but half of respondents (50.6%) say that they are aware their children are more likely to share parent-friendly content where they are connected with their parents, and more personal or private content on the platforms that they aren’t connected on.
With that being said, less than a fifth (17.3%) of parents have or would consider creating fake accounts to monitor their children without their knowledge, showing that not all parents are on a ‘need-to-know’ basis with their kids.
Given its strong presence in our lives, family time is considered by more than three quarters of parents (78.3%) as time that is spent away from digital devices with the top three family activities to do together being: watching movies, eating/cooking and outdoor activities.
Whilst technology is great for keeping us close to one another, it has created a lot of stress for parents. The top pressures for parents include: feeling the need to manage their children’s tech time (47.6%), keeping up with all the new tech developments (36.8%), and keeping up with the different apps their children are using (36.1%).
On the flipside, the role of tech in parenting is not all negative with nearly two-in-three respondents feeling that technology has played a positive role in their lives as parents. In particular, it’s been found that tech has helped in providing relevant information (42.0%), helping children to learn (27.3%) and keeping them entertained (23.0%).
From addiction and tracking, to the fear of missing out on important family moments, it is evident that technology does create stress for parents. However, as technology continues to evolve, so will its role in parenting in 2018 and beyond. Want to know more about modern Australian news and views? Stay tuned for our next chapter of research coming soon.
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