This consumption was correlated with negative parenting practices such as nagging and yelling.
They also found that negative parenting behaviors were more likely when technology interrupted family interactions.
Parents Need to be a Healthy Role Model for Children
The experiment didn’t focus on specific apps or websites that caregivers use but rather found that parents who spend time on screens were retreating from being present with their family, which is correlated with negative parenting practices.
“All members of the family matter when we try to understand families in a society saturated with technology,” said Jasmine Zhang, lead author of the study published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior.
“It’s not just children who are often on devices. Parents use digital media for many reasons, and these behaviors can impact their children,” said Zhang.
On average, the study said parents spend three to four hours a day consuming digital media for relaxation.
However, not all media consumption was correlated with negative outcomes.
Maintaining social connections through digital channels was related to lower levels of anxiety and depression and higher levels of positive parenting practices such as listening to their children’s ideas and speaking of the good their children do.
“When we study how parents use digital media, we need to consider caregivers’ motivations for using devices in addition to how much time they spend on them,” Zhang said.
The family media landscape continues to grow and become more prominent.
“Going forward, it’s important to consider the nuances of digital media as some behaviors are related to well-being, and others are related to distress,” said Dillon Browne, professor of psychology at Waterloo.
The researchers plan to build on these findings and hope that their work will aid in creating guidelines that will help caregivers manage their screen-based behaviors.