Should parents really limit the digital life of their children?
Rumeur Publique along with Xooloo introduced the results of the survey: “Should parents really limit the digital life of their children?”
In the presence of Anne-Catherine Baseilhac, Founder and director of Parenting Conseil and Grégory Veret, Founder and CEO of Xooloo, the results of this survey carried out with OpinionWay were revealed.
When the new school year begins, parents all wonder how their children will get on. Besides, the move to secondary school normally coincides with purchase of a smartphone, an essential rite of passage and a vital factor in social integration for a friendship group. So large numbers of parents have many thorny questions to ask: will my child be completely hooked? will he or she know how to handle it? What will she or he do with it?
As a developer of solutions to support children in their on-line life, Xooloo asked Opinion Way to carry out a survey of French parents with children aged from 8 to 16. And to help you understand how your pre-teen/teen uses their digital handset, Xooloo offers you an analysis of data from users from 8 to 16.
Half of French parents do not know what their children are doing in their on-line life
The big surprise of this survey was that almost half of parents cannot say how much time their child spends on their smartphone, tablet or computer every day – whether playing video games, watching films, talking to friends by text or instant messaging, on social networks or browsing the web. The response “Don’t know”, normally between 0% and 5% in surveys, in this case is given by between 46% and 49%! A real admission of ignorance.
Among those parents who do not know how much time their child spends on the Internet, there were more who never discussed their on-line usage with their children (66% compared to 35% of those who often discuss it with their children).
As for parents who think they do know, they estimate that their child spends on average 1hr 15min a day playing video games, a little longer than an hour watching videos (67 min), 51 minutes chatting on-line with friends and around three-quarters of an hour on social networks and browsing the Internet. It should be noted that as both parents and children get older, the longer are the estimated times reported.
And when they believe that they know, they are completely off the mark!
Comparing these responses with data supplied by Xooloo, it appears that parents are a long way from the truth, and overestimate the time their children spend on smartphone or tablet. On average, in fact, children from 8 to 16 spend only 25 minutes playing video games, while parents estimate this at 75 minutes, three times longer!
The same discrepancy is found between parents’ estimates and the real situation, with the differences from 1 to 10 times greater!
So the time spend watching videos is actually 21 minutes on average (compared to 67 according to parents), on social networks (17 mins against 47 mins), chatting with friends by text or instant messages (8 mins compared to 51 mins) and time spend browsing the web (4 mins compared to 44 mins).
Overall, children use their smartphones/tablets primarily for playing games, and then for viewing videos. Social networks come third, followed by chatting and web browsing.
Looking at the figures in detail, at any age boys mainly play video games, while girls prefer watching films. It can also be seen that social network use increases with age, being the fourth most important activity for the 8-10s, it rises to third place for 11-13 year olds and is the main activity for 14-16 year olds.
Pokémon Go: a popular success, but not replacing YouTube
Do you think that your children have given up everything else on their smartphones this summer to play nothing but Pokémon Go? Wrong again! Even though, on average, half of all children age from 8 to 16 have played the well-known game of hunting small creatures, it has a long way to go before replacing YouTube, since 83% of children have visited Google’s video platform over the same period.
The smartphone, a source of tension within the family
67% of parents state that their child’s use of a smartphone/tablet has led to tension or even conflict within the family unit. This figure increases as parents get older, rising to 70% among 50+, and as children get older, peaking at 73% for parents with children aged between 11 and 13 years old.
Among the one-third of parents surveyed who say they have never experienced tension associated with the use of a mobile device, it is interesting to note that two-thirds (64%) of these have never taken any steps to monitor usage and that over half (52%) never discuss digital usage with their child. This lack of interest probably explains the lack of tension.
Present “restrictive” solutions do not meet with unanimous support
Another interesting lesson from this study: most parents have already tried solutions to limit their child’s use of these new terminals. So 77% of parents have taken sometimes radical steps to try to control the use their child makes of their smartphone/tablet/computer.
On the other hand, no single solution has unanimous support: while around half chose to apply rules to avoid abuses (53%), almost one third have already confiscated the device for a limited period (28%)/ Parental control software only received 20% of votes, and 19% have threatened to block access to the device completely.
Although parents say they are concerned about their child’s use, no solution seems to be agreed by everyone.
Small differences do appear, however. Younger parents (18-34 years) are less likely than the average to confiscate their child’s device (18%, compared to 29% of parents aged 35 or older) but find it easier to install parental control software (34% compared to 18%). Another important difference is that parents of children aged from 14 to 16 years are less likely to use parental control software than parents of younger children: 16% compared to 24% of parents of children aged from 8 to 13. Is this because parental control software is no longer suitable for this age group, or because teenagers are more mature in their digital behaviour?
Parents aware of the importance of dialogue
Most parents (82%), aware of the importance of dialogue, say that they discuss smartphone, tablet or computer use with their child.
So 37% report “often” talking to their child about digital use, and 45% “sometimes” talk about it. It is parents of children from 11 to 13 who discuss the subject the most (88%) which presumes that this is the time children receive their first digital devices and begin their real initiation into the digital world.