44% of parents do not have support

The OPEN Association (Observatory of Parenting and Digital Education), in partnership with UNAF and IPSOS, is presenting a survey that reports on the digital behavior and practices of families in the aftermath of the health crisis. The study is based on testimonies from 2,012 parents (with children aged 0 to 17) and 600 children aged 7 to 17 interviewed between July 9 and 22, 2021.

Increased increase in hardware and screen consumption

According to the study, various restrictions have left their mark, especially with regard to screen consumption: 44% more for parents and 53% more for children.

Smartphone, parent-child leader

In 2022, households are mostly equipped with digital tools. The smartphone is the leader in terms of equipment (94% of households have it) and use (91%).

© OPEN / Unaf / IPSOS

According to the interviewed parents, the smartphone is most often used by their children, especially in the following age groups: 11-14 years old (70%), 15-17 years old (87%). According to these estimates, smartphone usage will increase by 11 points, from 37% to 48% between 2019 and 2021. Other tools used by children include:

  • tablet grew by 23 points (from 17% to 40% between 2019 and 2021),
  • television increases by 8 points (64% vs. 72%),
  • the computer scores 6 points (32% vs. 38%),
  • the console loses 6 points (38% vs 32%).
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Parents and children think they spend too much time on the Internet

88% of parents surveyed say they go online several times a day. Most parents admit that this consumption is excessive for themselves (77%), as well as for their children (74%) and adolescents (87%).

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Perceptions of parents (59%) and children (56%) are very close in acknowledging that children’s screen use has increased over the past 18 months.

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YouTube, children’s favorite network

Among the social networks most used by children we find:

  • YouTube/YouTube for kids (40%)
  • Snapchat (25%)
  • TikTok (23%)
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Children’s digital activities are underestimated by their parents

In terms of use, the review notes a gap between the perceptions of parents and children at different levels.

Difficulty for parents to assess the time their children spend in front of screens

The gap in perception of time spent in front of screens is striking between parents and children, especially during the week. Thus, the study shows that 7-10-year-olds spend almost three times more time on a smartphone than their parents think, as much on a computer or game console for the same age.

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However, this gap tends to narrow on weekends and holidays. This tends to prove that when parents are present or not busy, they are aware of the reality of their children’s digital practices.

Parents are confused in the face of the reality of their children’s activities

Similarly, there are significant differences when referring to their children’s online activities. This is especially true for the 7-10 age group, whose parents state that 49% of them watch short videos, and 66% of these children state that they do. This gap is also noticeable for activities such as watching movies (37% vs. 74% for 7-10 year olds) or watching TV series (43% vs. 73% for 11-14 year olds).

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Parents underestimate their children’s use of social media

From the side of social networks, the same observation: parents find it difficult to estimate the number of social networks that children access. So, according to parents, children aged 7-10 and 11-14 use an average of 1.9 and 3.2 social networks, respectively. Children say they use 2.5 and 3.6 social networks, respectively.

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Different perception of risks

When it comes to discussing the risks of the Internet, here, too, the views of parents and children diverge. On the one hand, parents note the social risks associated with the digital practices of their children, in particular:

  • addiction (average 51%)
  • cyberbullying (49%)
  • contact with strangers (43%)
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While children are more likely to mention health issues such as:

  • headaches (mean 43%)
  • difficulty falling asleep (42%)
  • passivity (39%)
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Proven need for family support

The study notes that parental support is often symbolized by setting rules and limits at the expense of dialogue.

Various means of regulating digital practices

Parents interviewed say they have rules governing their children’s screen use. This applies in particular to:

  • prohibit the use of screens at the table (53%)
  • limit screen time per day/week (52%)
  • ban screens before bed (43%)

It should be noted that 39% of respondents are in favor of discussing good digital practices with children. However, only 25% adapt their behavior to lead by example.

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Some parents will choose to implement a control solution with or without consultation with their children. The study notes that 41% of parents have already used spyware, including 30% when consulting with their child, a 70% increase in 2 years.

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Parents need support

According to the study, 1 in 2 parents, or 46% of respondents, do not feel supported or not supported enough. For help in digital education, parents will turn primarily to family and loved ones, and digital players are relegated to 7th place on the trust scale.

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Among the expectations of parents regarding potential accompaniment we find:

  • educational resources such as practical advice or non-digital tools to promote dialogue,
  • local actions and events such as awareness days for children or educational workshops for parents,
  • technical means or solutions.

Discover the full study

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