Cautious Moms, Casual Dads

We know the presence of kids in a household is highly correlated with the acquisition of a variety of internet-enabled devices and services. So much so, the idea of today’s mothers using internet-enabled technology to more effectively manage their consistently busy family lives has become almost clichéd. However, questions remain about if, when and/or how moms are passing down those feelings and behaviors about digital tools and experiences to their children. Do kids learn about the benefits of the digital world from their moms? 

In reviewing recently released data from LMX Family Wave 5 (2013) about moms’ and dads’ differing attitudes and actions concerning their children’s online activities, the numbers told a story, not only of moms’ internet-focused wariness when it came to their kids but also dads’ more casual adoption of the internet as a place for their kids to learn, play and be entertained. What we learned is that dads are very involved in introducing their children to the digital world and helping them explore the potential of the online environment.



Although the current parental stereotype is that of a multi-tasking mother dependent on her mobile phone to get through her daily to-do list, interestingly, dads were more likely than moms to agree they have come to depend on technology to help them manage different aspects of their family lives. And when it came to sharing digital experiences with their children, dads also led the way. Whether video gaming, social networking, or going online, moms displayed greater tentativeness than dads in sharing these kinds of activities with their kids aged 6-12.

In fact, dads were significantly more likely than moms to report online co-entertainment across activity categories while moms favored co-entertainment using more traditional media. Whether viewing streaming video, downloading apps or being friends on a social network, dads were more likely to be found participating with their kids than moms. 

In addition, dads were more willing to pay to enhance those digital co-entertainment experiences. For example, dads were significantly more likely than moms to report having paid to download specific content for their children including: games, movies, TV shows, music, virtual goods and exclusive website content. On the other hand, more than four-in-ten moms reported they had not paid to access any online content for their kids in the past year. 

Across the board, moms tended to be more guarded than dads when it came to encouraging their children to interact with technology. This was especially interesting in light of the fact that moms were more likely to believe, “kids today would rather play online and with video games than play with traditional toys.” 

Dads, on the other hand, were significantly more likely to agree with the statement “It is important for kids to be exposed to new technology and internet-enabled devices as young as possible.” Additionally, fathers were significantly more likely to allow their kids to go online without supervision. 

Ever-protective, mothers are careful to shield their children from the potential dangers that may lurk in the connected digital ecosystem, while dads seem to view the internet through the lens of it being a “glass half full” experience for kids.

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