Giving Them Every Advantage

As the seemingly never-ending debate rages on, comparing moms who work outside the home to moms who stay at home, perhaps the focus should be redirected to highlight the different advantages each type of mom bestows. Data from our newly released LMX Family study adds unique perspective to the discussion by comparing the media and technology ecosystems in which kids aged 6-12, in both types of households, are growing up today. 

Stay-at-home moms clearly had the time advantage over moms in dual-income households. They spent more time doing non-media-related activities with their kids than moms from dual-income households. Stay-at-home moms were more likely to interact with their children through a variety of traditional family activities including: helping with school work at home, playing with toys and video games (especially educational game systems), playing outside, cooking as well as other household chores. 

Overall, the data painted a much more traditional portrait of family life in households with stay-at-home moms. Not surprisingly, this included their approach to media and technology. These families’ media habits included greater use of traditional media such as print (books and magazines for school and fun) and television while digital technology including the internet and streaming video were used far less often than in households with dual incomes. 



This, in part, could be related to the economic advantage that was evident in the dual-income households. Households with two income earners had a median income of $74,579 compared to households with a stay-at-home mom at $44,394. That additional income was highly correlated with increased access to a variety of experiences including those related to media and technology.

With higher household incomes, dual-income families were significantly more likely to own new technology devices such as laptop computers, smartphones, iPhones, tablet computers including iPads (in fact, they were twice as likely to own an iPad), iPod Touch, Netbooks, iPods, web-enabled TVs, eReaders, satellite radio, 3-D TVs and digital video streaming devices. 

With access to a wider range of devices, moms in these households were significantly more likely to mention using technology to help manage family life and to credit technology with making family life easier. Time-saving strategies were also evident in the working-moms’ propensity to multitask while watching TV. Moms who work outside the home were significantly more likely to multitask while they were watching TV with their kids than moms who stay at home. Interestingly, the same pattern was seen in the kids’ sample, indicating possible modeling behavior. Kids in dual-income families were significantly more likely than kids with a stay-at-home mom to do other things while watching TV. 

Given the rapidly changing media environment, the distinctions between the two groups seem to be of particular importance to marketers and advertisers who are interested in reaching moms, kids and families. For example, regarding important sources of information when selecting a movie to see in the theater, kids from dual-income households were significantly more likely to mention online sources while kids from households with a stay-at-home mom mentioned traditional media advertising, like television commercials, more frequently. 

With moms who stay at home and those who work outside the home offering their kids distinct and varied advantages, creating a communications plan that connects with both types of families seems to be of utmost importance during this time of evolving media and technology family ecosystems. 

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