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Tech week: Kids aren't the only tech-heads in families ...

  • Blog Post by: Jeremy Olson
  • September 11, 2012 - 2:30 PM

Parents on average use 10.18 technological or e-communication devices, according to the University of Minnesota's ongoing Parenting 2.0 survey. They Facebook old friends, they videotape kids' sports, they use GPS-enabled device to track their morning runs. In short, they might be just as wired as their children -- you know, those kids accused of losing all touch with reality by burying their noses in their texts and mobile phones.

But the survey -- which you can still take here -- found some unique characteristics about parents and the forms of electronic communications that they rely on most. You know that old standby called email? Parents are still way more comfortable with that medium than they are with Twitter and social media. 95 percent of parents emailed daily. Only 59 percent texted daily.

Parenting 2.0's lead researcher, Jodi Dworkin, said the results are important to organizations such as the U of M's extension service that are trying to provide support and effective advice on parenting and raising children. Communication strategies relying heavily on social media aren't yet the best ways to spread that type of information, she said. 

"They're using email, they're going to the web," she said. "They're using I guess what we'd describe as more traditional" electronic communications.

The survey, so far at least, has skewed toward high-income, highly educated parents -- and to parents of teens. It has shown some interesting regional variations. Parents in rural areas, for example, have reported being much more likely to enroll in online courses or webinars. Urban parents love to read and comment on blogs. Suburban parents shop online.

One of the most intriguing findings is the overlap in parental attitudes about technology. 90 percent of parents agreed in the survey that electronic communications made their lives easier. But 35 percent said these same things made their lives more complicated. Can technology simplify and complicate someone's life at once? Dworkin said it makes some sense.

"Technology ... is an asset but also presents a challenge in many ways," she said. "For example, it's great to be able to stay connected to your child to check in, but that may also mean your child who has a cell phone could be texting while driving."

 

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