Parent-Child Relationships and Electronic Devices

Children have access to more information now than ever before. With devices such as tablets, laptops, smartphones and smart watches available, there is no limit to the content they can consume. The question for parents then becomes how much should they control on these devices for the child’s safety. What exactly are parents controlling on electronic devices, and how does this affect the relationship with the child?

Over 700 parents from the US participated in this study. Let’s look at the findings:


Views on privacy:

  • Usage: 87% of parents use privacy settings to help manage their kids’ use of electronic devices. 79% of parents would be interested in viewing data on their child’s usage on electronic devices from a privacy app.
  • The top 3 devices that parents have privacy or parental controls on are the Internet, computers/laptops, and cell phones.
  • Privacy affects the relationship: 42% of parents feel that privacy blocks and parental controls have made their relationship with their child more distant. 50% of those parents were male, 30% were female. 23% say that the blocks made their relationship closer, and 34% say the relationship was not affected.
  • When to leave kids unattended: The most popular age that parents started allowing their kids to use the Internet unattended WITH parental blocks was ages 6-10 (39%). The most popular age that parents started allowing their kids to use the Internet WITHOUT parental blocks was 11-15 (30%).

Social media usage:

  • Monitoring social media: 50% of parents always monitor their kids’ social media channels.
  • Enforcing the removal of posts: 67% of parents say that their child has posted something to social media that they made the child remove.
  • Uncomfortability: 68% of parents have discovered their child looking at something online that they were not comfortable with.
  • Bullying: 59% of parents have discovered their child being bullied, or bullying someone else on social media.

Parent/child relationship:

  • Dinner table usage: 62% of parents allow the use of cell phones and other electronic devices at the dinner table. More males than females allowed this (36% were male and 23% were female).
  • Parental usage: 58% of parents collectively spend 2-4 hours on their devices daily (table, computer, phone, watch).
    • Kids say “too much time”: 64% of parents say that their kids have complained about parents spending too much time on their electronic devices. The data shows that the male parent hears this more often (37% male vs 22% female)
    • Parents agree: 63% of parents agree and feel that their electronic device usage has negatively affected quality family time.
  • Elementary school kids own their devices: The popular age group that parents gave their kids electronic devices  such as cell phones, tablets, smart-watches, and laptops/personal computers was between ages 6-10. The next most popular age group was 11-15 years old.

To learn more about how Toluna QuickSurveys analyzes real-time data from each study, check out our blog on TolunaAnalytics and its functions.


This survey was run with Toluna QuickSurveys, the leading consumer digital insights platform. The data from this survey is based on 742 respondents, and Toluna’s proprietary weighting algorithm, SmartSelect was used for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income to bring them into line with their actual proportions within the population. Toluna QuickSurveys can now guarantee a minimum of 1,000 nationally representative completed interviews – in no less than 21 countries – in 24 hours or less.

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