Background. The ubiquity of ICTs, the decrease in the age at which digital devices began to be used, the sensitivity of the periods of preschool and primary school age, the extremely high importance of parental position regarding the use of digital devices by young children, with insufficient scientific development of this problem, necessitates obtaining and analyzing empirical data on the use of digital technologies in Russian families with preschool- and primary school- aged children.
Objective. Investigation of the ICTs usage in families with children of preschool (5-7 years old) and primary school (8-11 years old) age.
Design. The at-home study (N=100 parental-child dyads) consisted of a semi-structured interview for preschoolers and questionnaires for primary school aged children and parents of both age groups. It included questions about the level of user activity, digital initiation and culture, digital competency, parental mediation, online risks, psychological well-being and parent-child relationships .
Results. On weekdays, two-thirds (62-64%) of children aged 5–11 spend max. 1 hour on the Internet, and the rest of them spend max. 3 hours. On weekends, 48% of children of 5–11 years old spend online 1–3 hours, with 8% of preschool children and 18% of primary school children spending >3 hours. 5–7 aged children mostly use tablets, while 7–11 olders prefer smartphones. In both age groups, the leading form of digital activity is watching cartoons and videos. Children’s digital games evolve from interest in interacting with objects to preference for role-playing games. 7–1 aged kids begin to explore social networks, and use the Internet for study. 46% of 5–7 year children (46%), and 60% of 8–11 aged children have encountered online risks. Technical and content risks (pop-up banners and videos, frightening and pornographic content, viruses) prevail. 12% of primary school students encounter communication risks as well.
Most parents of preschoolers (70%) choose a strategy of being nearby their child using the Internet. In families with 8–11 aged children, adults are more tend to purposefully educate their child to use online technologies. A third of all adults surveyed admit to being insecure in the issue of online safety.
Sections: Psychology of virtual reality;
Available Online 31.12.2019
Fig. 1. Answers of parents to the question: “How much time does your child spend with digital devices on weekdays and weekends?”
Fig. 2. Answers of parents of preschool children and primary school children to the question: “Which device is your child’s favourite?”
Fig. 3. Answers of preschoolers’ (5–7 years) parents and answers of primary school children to the question: “What does your child (you) most often do on the Internet? (3 answer options max)"
Fig. 4. Answers of preschoolers’ parents and primary school students to the question: “What problems have you encountered on the Internet over the past year?”
Fig. 5. Comparison of the frequencies of parental mediation strategies for using the Internet (parents of preschool children 5–7 years old and primary school children 8–11 years old, %).
Fig. 6. Types of prohibitions set by parents when children use the Internet (%).
The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Department of Humanitarian and Social Sciences) as part of the research project Generation Z: Information and Communication Technologies as a Cultural Tool for the Development of Higher Mental Functions, project 17-06-00762.
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