"Tech for young children is evolving faster than scientific research can study its effects, and this study helps pediatric providers understand the experience and concerns of a diverse group of parents," said lead author Jenny Radesky from Boston University School of Medicine.
The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 35 parents/guardians to learn about their views regarding mobile device use by themselves and their children, including benefits, drawbacks and effects on family interactions.
Participants included mothers (63 percent), fathers (26 percent) and grandmothers (11 percent) with a mean age of 38 years. Their children were younger than nine years.
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Results showed that caregivers had a high degree of tension regarding technology. Many reported feeling that they needed to buy their children tablets to keep up with educational system and workforce demands.
Parents also worried about how strongly their children were drawn to mobile devices and gaming, with some saying their kids were "hooked" or "addicted".
They also were concerned that time spent on screens would hurt their child's social skills. Other parents worried that reliance on technology would make their child less creative or less of an independent thinker.
Many lower-income caregivers said it was difficult to stay on top of what apps or social media their children were using, and they did not feel confident in their ability to set limits on mobile device use.
The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.