Parenting has always been the site of moral panics. Whether it's rock'n'roll or slap bracelets, our elders have always wondered whether society is poisoning the youths. It's no surprise that technology plays a huge role in these fears today, and for all ages, screen time may be Public Enemy No. 1.
We may not have to worry so much about our kids and smartphones, however. Psychologists at Australia's Edith Cowan University have just released a study suggesting that smartphones actually have very little to do with the quality of our parenting overall. In fact, the research team created a list of 84 ways that mobile devices can augment and improve child-rearing.
"For parents, the smartphone is an essential link to the outside world for support, knowledge or to connect with others in similar situations," said coauthor Lynette Vernon. "[A]cross diverse family environments, smartphones play multiple roles in family life, including provision of social support and information, and allowing for work and digital errands. If phones are not heavily impacting on family time, smartphones tend to be tied to positive (and not negative) parenting."
This should be welcome news in the era of COVID especially. Parents all across the U.S. have been struggling with childcare and working from home; in fact, caring for children has become one of Americans' biggest personal budget categories since the pandemic began. No family is meant to raise kids entirely on its own, so give yourself — and everyone in the household — a little break, and get on with the business of going about your day.