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Jackie Marsh

The Afterword reflects on the themes addressed in the book and considers them in the light of global scholarship in the field. It draws together the overarching concepts and poses a number of questions about how the issues raised by the authors might inform future research. One of the key advances this book makes to knowledge in the area is that it enhances our understanding of how the use of media by individuals has an impact on the collective experiences of the family. The study develops an even-handed understanding of how technologies can both disrupt and enhance intimacy within the family context. The study offers methodological insights into the nature of observations in the home environment and makes clear that any study of media use in families should consider children’s experiences as well as parents’.

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Edited by Anja R. Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo

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Edited by Anja R. Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo

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Katja Repo and Satu Valkonen

This chapter examines the daily life of children in the digital era from the perspective of their time use. The chapter is based on the results of current inquiries from Finland, the United Kingdom and the USA. It reports on children’s new (mobile phones, smartphones, tablets) and traditional media (television) use, which have come to play a prominent role for many children. The chapter looks at the way homes as media environments have changed in recent years, and discusses how the media use of children is related to time spent alone, with family members, and with friends. The chapter points out that a diversity of media is available for children in all three countries. Children’s use of smartphones and tablets is increasing rapidly, and the older they are, the more they spend time online. The chapter also argues that although TV is still an important focus of family time, portable devices are creating the increasing privatization of family time.

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Peter Nikken

Parenting has become more worrisome nowadays because of the enormous number of media devices found in the home. On a daily basis, parents are confronted with questions of when and for how long children can use their media, what devices are appropriate for what age, and which types of content are beneficial and which may be harmful. In general, there is enough information and advice for parents – in particular on the Internet – but often such advice does not fully match the parents’ needs. Guidelines often focus on the amount of media use per day and the risks of media use. Less often do they communicate how to choose ‘good’ content and how to enjoy that content with children together. Moreover, advice is often directed at children or youth in general, not at children in a specific age bracket. Finally, most parenting support could benefit from the outcomes of child and media research.

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Anja Riitta Lahikainen and Ilkka Arminen

The role of media in children’s socialization depends on many of the intertwined decision-making factors of parents and children. In this study, families appear to form two groups: the gourmets, which feature the parents regulating their children’s media use by arranging other joint activities with children, and the gourmands, which feature parents who are permissive and encourage children’s technology use and regulate it only loosely. Generally, the authors observe that the regulation of children’s media usage becomes more difficult when children get older. Most conflicts between parents and children were related to the children’s computer/media use and associated disobedience. These conflicts are also evidence of the value of the family, and its ability to resist outside forces. In addition, new opportunities have been opened up thanks to mobile media, since family interaction, both facially and from a distance, is no longer limited to the home. Media and technologies intensify social life, adding new negotiations to family life, but do not threaten its centrality.

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Sanna Raudaskoski, Eerik Mantere and Satu Valkonen

New digital media devices are changing interaction practices rapidly, and this also applies to families. This chapter considers the mechanisms that are essential for understanding and investigating the meaning of parental smartphone use for developing children. The authors introduce the concept of ‘bystander ignorance’, which illustrates the role of smartphone use from the point of view of a bystanding person. Compared to the use of other objects in the home environment, parental smartphone use is exceptional in two major ways: (1) it catches the gaze and draws the caregiver away from the ongoing interaction with the child, and (2) it conveys exceptionally few signs of the activity that the caregiver is engaged in. Based on previous research on the development of social and emotional skills, the authors argue that parental smartphone use resulting in children’s bystander ignorance may have some effects on child development, and there is an urgent need for further research on the matter.

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Anja Riitta Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo

The introductory chapter outlines the contents of the volume. The first part of the book maps contemporary family life and child socialization by providing new methodological, theoretical and time-use reflections on media use and media-related child–parent interaction. In addition, it discusses conversation analysis as a method for depicting the complexity of family interaction. This first part utilizes time-use surveys as well as recent theoretical and methodological discussions. The second part of the book reaches into the private zone of family interaction, and provides the reader with detailed interactional analyses of everyday life with media devices. Detailed case studies of various forms of media-related family interaction contribute to understanding new forms of family time, and conflict situations.

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Eero Suoninen

This chapter focuses on two very different modes of interaction between parents and children in the context of watching TV. In order to make sense of this gender-based difference, cases of father–son and mother–daughter interaction in which gender-related practices are most prevalent are analysed in detail. The methodological strategy is to interpret how interactional processes become constructed in and through the participants’ turns. This data-driven strategy applies the principles and techniques of discourse analysis, conversation analysis and multimodal discourse analysis. The analysis reveals a clear difference between two kinds of interactional modes, which may be called masculine and feminine, in which also the variation of dialogical rhythm and volume level differ radically. From the point of view of a child, it is important that both feminine and masculine interaction in the context of watching TV generate meaningful togetherness between parents and children.

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Edited by Anja R. Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo

This is a first-class repository of new knowledge on how media and family routines intertwine in daily interactions. The multi-method approach reveals how varying forms of media affect the interaction between children and their parents. Avoiding criticism of these interactions, the contributors instead offer an impartial view of the natural occurrences in media-related family life.