The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age

By Lynn Schofield Clark | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Strict Parents, Gamer High School
Dropouts, and Shunned
Overachievers

U.S. SOCIETY HAS TENDED to view young people either as vulnerable and in need of protection or as a potential menace to be controlled and contained.1 When we think of children as vulnerable and in need of protection, we want to offer them warmth and support. In contrast, when we think of children in relation to problem behaviors, we consider the benefits of regulation and control. These two components—warmth/support and regulation/ control—guide parenting behaviors, and research suggests that the best parenting practices involve finding a balance between responsiveness (warm and supportive parenting) and demandingness (regulating behaviors).2 This balanced style is termed authoritative parenting, and it contrasts with the less desirable styles of authoritarian (demanding but not warm), permissive (warm but not demanding), and neglectful (neither demanding nor warm) parenting.

In the previous chapter, we considered the stories of parents who perhaps viewed themselves as authoritative but were inclined to be either overinvolved (helicopter parents), trying to control their children’s digital and media environment, or underinvolved, underestimating the role of digital and mobile media in their children’s lives. So far, research says little about parental under- or overinvolvement in digital and mobile media, but existing studies do suggest that authoritative parents, or those who are deemed successful in balancing responsiveness and demandingness, tend to talk about digital and mobile media use with their children more than do parents who are less warm or more restrictive, and also tend to place more restrictions on their use.3 Most parents report that they spend at least some time restricting and overseeing media use, talking with their children about the Internet and remaining in the same room when their children are online.4

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