Parents to blame for children’s bad digital habits, study says

Parents play an influential role in shaping their children’s behaviour online, a new study shows.

The waning physical interaction among today’s young people can be blamed on their parents’ online behaviour, says Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company.

Children are always observing and copying what their parents do, including their digital habits. When they see their parents glued to their devices, they consider such behaviour normal and they too spend substantial time online.

Lack of social interaction in the digital era, Kaspersky says, is one of the behaviours that children are adapting to, by mimicking what their parents do – spending a lot of time on their phones and screens.

With 82 per cent of adults and 70 per cent of children spending at least three hours on their gadgets every day, the study results released yesterday indicated a direct correlation between how much time parents and their children spend on devices.


Some 48 percent of children and adults use their devices at the same time during the day, Kaspersky found.

Children actively adapt to the way their parents spend time on their devices, the study found. When parents spend less time on their devices, their children do so too.

Children whose parents regularly use devices spend more time in front of the screen, the study says. Those whose parents commonly use gadgets spend an additional 39 minutes online during meals.

Parents are struggling to eliminate a mess they too are trapped in, said Marina Titova, vice-president for consumer product marketing at Kaspersky.

“The more hours parents spend on gadgets, the more hours children are likely to spend on theirs. Parents should ensure better screen-time balance for their children and their main challenge is how to achieve this,” Ms Titova said

“Today there are tools available that can help parents improve the digital well-being of their children and ensure their screen time is secure and balanced.”

Digital content

Birgitt Hölzel, a therapist with the practice Liebling+Schatz in Munich, Germany, said it is important for children to have tangible interaction instead of just consuming digital content.

Children below the age of 12, she said, do not have the capacity to understand abstract information.

“Children first learn to feel, hear, see, smell and taste the world. In our practice, families using digital media is always a prominent topic,” she said.

“Parents are convinced that it is sufficient to clearly regulate their children’s media time and control the type of content they have access to. Instead of worrying about effective punishments, parents should first reduce their own media consumption.”

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