Parents want more resources and tools to become digital role models

October 29, 2018

OTTAWA – A new study shows that an increasing number of digitally connected parents, well aware of both the benefits and pitfalls of integrating tech into family life, want to create a better digital balance at home.

According to recent findings by MediaSmarts, nearly two thirds of all parents see the value from digital technology, while over half agree that the less time the child spends online, the better. In other words, parents need resources to enlighten their unique parenting strategies and rules, as well as best practices to promote meaningful engagement when using digital technology.

“Parents need to be aware of their own tech habits and of the gap in digital and media literacy education for all ages,” says MediaSmarts’ Executive Director Kathryn Hill. “We can provide more support for everyone in the family with our MediaSmarts teaching tools; parents can learn to build their skills together with their children as a family – we want parents to know they are not alone in this.”

Nowadays, average Canadian households own some type of digital device. Three out of four Canadian families have a mobile device (laptop, tablet and/or smartphone) in their home. Of these, 53 per cent of all children across all age groups have access to their own smartphone, followed by a tablet and computer (desktop or laptop). Not surprisingly, the older the children, the more likely they are to have their own digital device. All this to say, there is a demand for information as parents strive to strike a balance between mitigating the associated risks and giving children access to the opportunities digital technology affords.

Become a positive digital influencer

The report says that with proper support parents become positive influencers for their children. Four out of five parents emphasized the importance of their child thinking critically about how they use digital devices. According to the research, families need greater digital literacy support such as mediation strategies and resources that promote digital literacy skill development for parents and children. Resources help parents perceive self-awareness of their own digital consumption habits. Resources should also be based on the understanding that parenting rules and strategies are context‑specific and regularly changing.

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation co-leads Media Literacy Week from November 5 to 9 with MediaSmarts to highlight the importance of digital and media literacy as a key component in the education of children and young people. Learn more about the week here.