Mobile devices don't reduce shared family time, study finds

March 11, 2019

The first study of the impact of digital mobile devices on different aspects of family time in the UK has found that children are spending more time at home with their parents rather than less - but not in shared activities such as watching tv and eating. The increase is in what is called 'alone-together' time, when children are at home with their parents but say they are alone.

Researchers from Oxford University and the University of Warwick found alone-together time has increased by nearly 30 minutes a day between 2000 and 2015, a period which saw the rapid diffusion of high-quality home internet and personal mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

While mobile devices were used at all times families were together in 2015, their use was particularly concentrated during alone-together time.

However, the study also found no evidence that device use had displaced traditional shared activities like family meals and watching television. Despite widespread concerns about the influence of mobile device use on family life, the amount of time UK families with children between 8 and 16 spend on shared activities remained largely unchanged at around 90 minutes per day.

The full results of the study, which draws on a nationally representative sample of close to 5,000 daily diaries from around 2,500 children and their parents, are published today in the Journal of Marriage and Family.Commenting on the findings, Dr Killian Mullan, of the Centre for Time Use Research said:

"Our analysis has found that the overall family space has expanded, but it's this alone-together time, when children and parents are in the same location but children are reporting that they are alone, which has made up the increase.

"While our data can't tell us what has caused the change, a stronger focus on the home has long been predicted by previous work into the potential of technology to make the home environment a more attractive place to spend time. There's also a possibility that parents prefer their children to be at home for safety reasons.

"Given this large increase in alone-together time, it is perhaps reassuring that we also found no decline in the amount of time families spent in shared activities between 2000 and 2015. This suggests that parents still value key aspects of traditional family life, such as family meals or shared hobbies, and seek to prioritise them in the face of pressure from technological change."

Dr Stella Chatzitheochari, of the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick added:

"Our study is the first to measure the rapid spread of mobile devices across family life, revealing that children and parents will spend time on devices such as smartphones and tablets even while watching TV or eating together.

"The research shows that device use is now embedded into family life. While we did not find any significant changes in the time family members spend interacting and doing things together, it is certainly possible that mobile devices distract people's attention during family activities, leading to feelings that the quality of family relationships is under threat.

"However, it is worth noting that mobile device use may be complementing family activities and also help children and young people build and maintain friendships outside of the home. Future research should build on our data to explore more deeply the ways in which the quality of family interactions is affected by mobile device use."
-end-
Changing Times Together? A Time Diary Analysis of Family Time in the Digital Age in the UK is published today in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Acknowledgements:

This research was based on the United Kingdom 2000-2001 Time Use Survey, produced by the Office for National Statistics and IPSOS-RLS, and the 2014-2015 Time Use Survey, produced by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) on behalf of the University of Oxford. Data are Crown Copyright and were supplied by the UK Data Service, which bears no responsibility for any of the analyses and interpretations presented in this article. Killian Mullan's contribution was supported by the ESRC (ES/L011662/1) and by ERC (Project 339703).

University of Warwick

Related Mobile Devices Articles from Brightsurf:

How mobile apps grab our attention
Aalto University researchers alongside international collaborators have done the first empirical study on how users pay visual attention to mobile app designs.

No association found between exposure to mobile devices and brain volume alterations in adolescents
New study of 2,500 Dutch children is the first to explore the relationship between brain volume and different doses of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields

Mobile devices blur work and personal privacy raising cyber risks, says QUT researcher
Organisations aren't moving quickly enough on cyber security threats linked to the drive toward using personal mobile devices in the workplace, warns a QUT privacy researcher.

Multi-mobile (M2) computing system makes android & iOS apps sharable on multiple devices
Computer scientists at Columbia Engineering have developed a new computing system that enables current, unmodified mobile apps to combine and share multiple devices, including cameras, displays, speakers, microphones, sensors, and GPS, across multiple smartphones and tablets.

The use of mobile phone and the development of new pathologies
Professor Raquel Cantero of the University of Malaga (UMA) has identified a generational change in the use of this finger due to the influence of new technologies.

Mobile devices don't reduce shared family time, study finds
The first study of the impact of digital mobile devices on different aspects of family time in the UK has found that children are spending more time at home with their parents rather than less -- but not in shared activities such as watching TV and eating.

Mobile, instant diagnosis of viruses
In a first for plant virology, a team from CIRAD recently used nanopore technology to sequence the entire genomes of two yam RNA viruses.

Wearable devices and mobile health technology: one step towards better health
With increasing efforts being made to address the current global obesity epidemic, wearable devices and mobile health ('mHealth') technology have emerged as promising tools for promoting physical activity.

Mobile health devices diagnose hidden heart condition in at-risk populations
New research shows wearable mobile health devices improved the rate of diagnosis of a dangerous heart condition called atrial fibrillation.

Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones
Mobile phones and tablets through so-called audio tracking, can be used by means of ultrasound to unnoticeably track the behaviour of their users: for example, viewing certain videos or staying in specific rooms and places.

Read More: Mobile Devices News and Mobile Devices Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.