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14 April 2016

Son, Stop Looking at Your Phone! Five Parent Characteristics that Matter in Smartphone-Related Parenting

Keywords: parents, personality, Eastern Asia, kids, mobile, mobile phone, personality characteristics, survey, technology,

Five parental characteristics are associated with parenting regarding children’s smartphone use, a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking shows. It turns out that regulating and discussing children’s smartphone use depends on parents' own addiction to smartphones, their perceived severity of smartphone addiction, and three personality factors. 

Take aways

  • The following types of parents are more likely to regulate and discuss their children’s smartphone use: parents who
    • are not addicted to their smartphone 
    • perceive smartphone addiction as severe 
    • are relatively neurotic 
    • are relatively open to experience
    • are relatively agreeable
  • Policy makers should know that smartphone addiction interventions should incorporate parents. An explicit goal of these interventions could be to enhance parents’ perceived severity of smartphone addiction, because it was found to be an important factor in parenting regarding children’s smartphone use.

Study information

  • The question?

    Which parental characteristics are associated with regulating and discussing their child’s smartphone (mis)use?

  • Who?

    460 adults with at least one child in elementary school (mean age: 41.12 years; 50.2% mother).

  • Where?


  • How?

    Parents who had at least one child in elementary school were recruited through an online panel managed by a large company in Korea. Parents answered questions about their personality, their own and their child’s smartphone use, the extent to which they controlled and regulated smartphone use (setting rules about their child’s smartphone use, for example about the amount of time and the type of content) and the extent to which they actively discussed smartphone use (instructing the child by explaining and discussing about their child’s smartphone use). If the parent had more than one child who attended elementary school, they were instructed to answer the questions based on the oldest child.

Facts and findings

  • Parents who reported to be addicted to their smartphone less often actively discussed their child’s smartphone use with their child.
  • Parents who believed that smartphone addiction has serious consequences more often regulated and actively discussed their child’s smartphone use.
  • As for parent personality:
    • Neurotic parents applied more rules and regulations regarding children's smartphone use.
    • Parents who were more open to experience discussed and explained smartphone use more often.
    • Parents who scored high on agreeableness more often regulated and discussed their child’s smartphone use. 
  • Critical note: This study does not allow to draw any conclusions about cause (parent factors) and effect (regulating and discussing children’s smartphone use). The results only show that parent factors are associated with smartphone-related parenting.