Media, Family Interaction and the Digitalization of Childhood
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Media, Family Interaction and the Digitalization of Childhood

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.
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Chapter 11: The influence of parental smartphone use, eye contact and ‘bystander ignorance’ on child development

Sanna Raudaskoski, Eerik Mantere and Satu Valkonen

Abstract

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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