Using Technology to Support the Parent-child Relationship: Observations Within the Context of the Child’s Learning
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The effect of technology use on the parent-child relationship is poorly understood, yet sufficiently studied to confirm technology does influence this relationship. Despite being a large demographic, literature about the effect on middle-class families that live together, have school-age children, and no special social or physical needs is especially sparse. This present research aimed to better understand this effect and identify patterns that could benefit the parent-child relationship. Observations were conducted of four parents interacting with their child using technology related to the child’s learning. Behaviour that had an effect on the parent-child relationship was identified as behavioural patterns. These patterns evolved and were clarified as the observations progressed. There were three common patterns observed in the parent-child dyads. The first was the physical and verbal intimacy the dyads displayed when using technology; this appeared to have a positive effect on the relationship. The second pattern was the parents using technology as a tool to extend an interaction with their child and benefit the relationship in the process. Findings showed the quality of time, rather than quantity, had most influence on the relationship. The final pattern was the parents seeking to protect their child from failure. This pattern showed both positive and negative effects on the relationship. The love that parents had for their children was evident and the children demonstrated how much they appreciated their parents being involved in what they were doing. By its very nature, this exploratory research generated many more questions than it answered. This research has provided an intriguing starting point for further research, practical tools for parents, and a different mindset for product managers. I anticipate that by following on from research in this area, the understanding of the dynamics occurring in the parent-child relationship will be greatly enhanced. In time, the potential for technology to support and develop the parent-child relationship will be realised.