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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An ecology of technology : infants, toddlers, and mobile screen devices Wooldridge, Michaela Birgitta


Within a bio-ecological systems framework, this study explored the presence and use of mobile screen devices (MSDs) within family homes of infants born into a Digital Age. A mixed methods approach was used to gather and analyze data from an online questionnaire completed by 292 Canadian parents with a child birth to three years old, as well as from home-based observations and interviews with 28 families. There were three research questions: (1) How do the presence and use of MSDs relate to factors of the family environment? (2) Do parent knowledge and beliefs predict the reasons that parents provide MSDs to their children? and (3) Do parent knowledge and beliefs predict how much time a child spends using MSDs? Results for question 1 found MSDs to shape the physical, social, and psychological family context. On average, families owned 6 MSDs, the parent used MSDs for 7 hours per day, and 60% of children directly used an MSD. Themes of concerns about technology included impacts on the child, the parent and family, and society. Parents’ beliefs about MSDs for children were more negative than positive, and child MSD products were negatively evaluated. On measures of developmental knowledge and parenting sense of competence, scores were average and above average, respectively. Results for question 2 found that child age, maternal education, the number of MSDs, the interaction of positive MSD beliefs with the number of MSDs and the interaction of maternal education with parenting sense of competence predicted parents’ provision of their MSD to their child. Results for question 3 found that child age, number of family MSDs, and positive beliefs in MSDs for children were predictors for child use of MSDs, while child age, maternal education, parent time using MSDs, and knowledge of development predicted the amount of time children used MSDs. The complex interplay between sociodemographics, parent provision of MSDs to infants and toddlers, and parent knowledge and beliefs that form a climate of new demands for parents in their child-raising roles is discussed in terms of implications for developmental researchers and practitioners working with infants, toddlers, and/or their caregivers.

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