Parents Often Learn Technology From Their Kids
January 25, 2014

Many Parents Learn Technology Use From Their Children

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Parents, if you’ve ever had your children teach you how to use computers or surf the Internet, don’t worry – you are not alone, according to research published in a recent edition of the Journal of Communication.

In the study, Teresa Correa of University Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile found that 30 to 40 percent of all mothers and fathers learned how to use technology from their sons and daughters. The findings are based on surveys of 242 parent/child sets and in-depth interviews with 14 other parent/child sets.

Correa found that parents are influenced by their children in several types of technologies, including computers, mobile Internet and social media up to 40 percent of the time. Furthermore, parents scored lower than their children, demonstrating that the older generation does not recognize how they are being influenced.

“This bottom-up influence process was more likely to occur with mothers and lower socioeconomic families,” the International Communication Association (ICA), the academic association that publishes the Journal of Communication, said in a statement. “Similar to what happens among low-income immigrant families, where the children act as language and culture links between the family and the new environment.”

The study authors also found that children from poorer families were more likely to receive input about digital media and other types of new technology from their friends and classmates at school. In turn, those youngsters went on to share what they’ve learned with their parents.

While previous research has already established the influence of younger family members on their older relatives when it comes to computer and Internet use, those studies used qualitative methods and did not probe the matter as extensively as Correa does in her paper, the ICA noted.

“The fact that this bottom-up technology transmission occurs more frequently among women and lower-SES families has important implications,” said Correa. “Women and poor people usually lag behind in the adoption and usage of technology. Many times, they do not have the means to acquire new technologies but, most importantly, they are less likely to have the knowledge, skills, perceived competence, and positive attitudes toward digital media.”

“These results suggest that schools in lower-income areas should be especially considered in government or foundation-led intervention programs that promote usage of digital media,” she added. The study was first published online by the peer-reviewed academic journal on December 2, 2013.