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.
Katja Repo and Satu Valkonen
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.