A Question of Commitment, Attention and Trust: The Role of Smartphone Practices for Parent-Child Relationships in Adolescence

Christina Ortner, Sopie Holly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

By doing case analyses of five selected families, this paper reconstructs how smartphone practices in everyday family life alter relationships between parents and their adolescent children (12-15 years). Following the approach of integrative-praxeological family research, we took single families as a starting point. The empirical data was gathered through a combination of problem-centred interviews and a qualitative experiment, were we asked the participating families to put aside their mobiles for one day. The results show that for many parents and kids it is hard to be disconnected throughout the day. Keeping in touch via mobile strengthens the feeling of safety, closeness and commitment on both sides. Surprisingly, none of the adolescents felt controlled by being connected all day long. Smartphone use during shared time, on the contrary, reduces attention and closeness. Moreover, it provokes the feeling of not being respected. Most important for parent-child relationships in our families, however, are parental interventions in children’s smartphone use. As they are closely linked to questions of trust and mutual understanding, they touch upon the fundaments of the relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Journalkommunikation.medien
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • parent-child relationship
  • family relationships
  • adolescents
  • smartphone
  • mobile phone
  • digital media in families
  • mediatization of family life

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