Children are teaching technology to up to 40% of parents, the figure is even higher in lower socioeconomic families, a researcher from the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile, reported in the Journal of Communication.
The study showed that between 30% and 40% of parents learned how to use a computer and the Internet from their kids.
Teresa Correa carried out in-depth interviews with 14 families (parent/child sets) and monitored the activities of 242 parent/child sets.
She found that up to 40% of the time, children influenced their parents in how to use computers, social networking and mobile Internet, i.e. all technologies studied.
Many parents unaware of their children’s influence
The children had considerably higher tech scores than the majority of parents. Correa says that parents are not necessarily aware of the influence their children have on them. A number of parents also learned through self-experimentation.
Children teaching technology to their parents is more common among mothers in lower socioeconomic households. Similar to what occurs among low-immigrant families, where the children pick up the local language and customs first and become the interpreters for the family.
Digital media is a new environment for many adults
For lower socioeconomic households, digital media is a new environment. Children in such households are more likely to receive tech input first, typically from school and friends. The kids in turn pass their learning on to their parents.
Correa’s study differs from previous ones in that they had not explored the extent to which the process of teaching technology in a family setting occurs.
“The fact that this bottom-up technology transmission occurs more frequently among women and lower-SES families has important implications. Women and poor people usually lag behind in the adoption and usage of technology.”
“Many times, they do not have the means to acquire new technologies but, most importantly, they are less likely to have the knowledge, skills, perceived competence, and positive attitudes toward digital media. These results suggest that schools in lower-income areas should be especially considered in government or foundation-led intervention programs that promote usage of digital media.”