Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

The Association between Internet Parenting Styles and Children's Use of the Internet at Home

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

The Association between Internet Parenting Styles and Children's Use of the Internet at Home

Article excerpt

Parenting styles are known to have a powerful influence on child development, and as such they can significantly influence children's Internet use. The purpose of this study is to examine the Internet parenting style of Jordanian parents and their perspectives on their children's Internet use. Children's Internet use was evaluated in terms of four distinct parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. A total of 570 Jordanian parents of K-2 children participated in this study. For the purpose of the study, the researchers developed two scales: Internet Parenting Style Scale and Internet Usage Scale. Results indicated that the authoritative Internet parenting style was the most commonly used parenting style practiced by Jordanian parents, followed by the permissive and authoritarian parenting styles, with the neglectful parenting style being used the least. According to the parents, their children's Internet use typically involved playing games online and visiting websites. The findings also revealed that only the authoritarian parenting style was a significant predictor of children's Internet use. Implications of these findings for parents and children are considered.

Keywords: parental styles, Internet, children's Internet use, Jordan


The Internet has become a very popular medium in the 21st century, creating substantial changes in social and cultural practices. In recent years, Internet usage by young children has become commonplace (Johnson, 2010). According to Hofferth (2010), children are being exposed to the Internet as young as age 5, at home and in school.

Research demonstrates that the Internet provides children with plenty of opportunities for communication, access to information, and chances to engage in interactive play (Johnson, 2010). The Internet can help children develop their cognitive and social abilities (Greenfield & Yan, 2006), enhance their visual intelligence (DeBell & Chapman, 2006), and improve their learning (Austin & Reed, 1999). It has been shown that children who frequently use the Internet tend to score higher on standardized tests of reading achievement than those who use it rarely (Jackson et al., 2006). Additionally, many child-based websites help to develop children's metacognitive functions, such as planning, searching strategies, and evaluating information (Tarpley, 2001). Moreover, access to a computer and the Internet at home contributes to improved Internet skills later in life, which are crucial in the modern world (Kuhlemeier & Hemker, 2007).

Soeters and Van Schaik (2006) argued that though using the Internet can be an amazing experience for children, it also can be a dangerous environment for children. A number of researchers (e.g., Bullen & Harre, 2000; Hasebrink, Livingstone, & Haddon, 2008; Palmer, 2006) have taken a more critical perspective on the use of the Internet by children. For example, Bullen and Harre (2000) categorized five threats that the Internet may pose for children: (1) the nature of the Internet and the age level of the Internet users make it difficult to evaluate the information being presented, (2) the danger associated with giving out personal details or setting up personal meetings with individuals they met via the Internet, (3) the negative impact of exposure to unsolicited pornography, (4) the occurrence and subsequent impact of sexual solicitation, and (5) the impact of antiracist sites, hate sites, and threatening or harassing materials. However, despite the potential negative consequences of children's Internet use, many researchers assert that the developmental advantages of using the Internet in early childhood years outweigh the disadvantages (Greenfield & Yan, 2006).

Over the past few years, Internet access at home has been growing considerably (Kuiper, Volman, & Terwel, 2008; Valcke, De Wever, Van Keer, & Schellens, 2011). …

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