Parental Perspectives on Internet Use by Children
In this paper an exploration of parental perspectives on Internet use by children will be done. The research will look through the interviews with at least ten parents with children aged between 0-10 years old. There will be questions to parents about the time their children spend on the Internet and how they use it. Therefore, each parent will mention some ways in which they ensure that their kids use the global network in safe purposes. The prediction is that good parental control of how children below ten years old access the Internet is related to how well the children develop their social skills. Moreover, the paper considers various discussions about the implications of the Internet usage and ways to effectively utilize it.
The use of social media websites has become one of the most common activities of today’s children. While the population of all countries notices an increase of the number of children accessing social media, the trend is getting more tangible in some countries than in the others. Though there are a few benefits of social media for the children, the technology may bring more harm than good to them. Excessive use of social media has negative impacts on the social development of the young generation. In this project, I will explore these effects particularly on the perspectives of parents. The purpose of the proposed study is to find out the effects of the Internet on the social development of children in the social sphere, the circumstances, their experiences, and nature of their social communicative world. Expectations are that there will be a gain of sound results and clear analysis that would prove the hypothesis that good parental control of the ways children below the age of ten access the Internet is related to how well the children develop their social skills. The research will be beneficial to the public as they would be able to get trustworthy information on how the social media affects their children. As a result, the research may assist to impact current parenting policies in the UAE so that parents were able to employ appropriate Internet access policies to their children. That would allow them to use the facilities of technologies in the right way and, at the same time, on the interactive basis.
Background and Scope
The target population of this research is Emirati children aged between 0-10 years. The research will obtain a convenience sample of fifteen parents who have children of not more than the established age. As a compensation, the parents would receive useful handouts on how to ensure that their children utilize the Internet for a productive purposes. Each parent who will agree to participate in the interview will need to read and sign an informed consent before actually being involved in the project.
It is expected that the parents will talk about various topics that are related to the main theme and, therefore, form an extended interview. There will be 15 conversations in general with any necessary follow-up conducted one week after the interviews. Additionally, the additional sessionsin the format of interviews with an aim of clarifying with at least a dozen of parents will take place. After completion of some data analysis, which would lead to the better understanding of the findings. The expectations are that the interviews will vary in length from 30 minutes to about an hour. They will be open-ended, informal and held in a conversational style. All of the taped interviews will be transferred to a computer file to guarantee confidentiality. The identification of the participants will be provided by numbers.
Many researchers agree that the Internet use has changed the way of life in today’s world (Al-Jenaibi). Some of the aspects of people’s routine that the Internet altered include work, shopping and others. The thing that is of concern to this research, is how the Internet has modified the way people communicate and interact, and especially by using social media sites. Most parents do not have much control over the way their children employ the Internet. Unlike some years ago, today the Internet is available on handheld devices, which have made controlling the content that kids view on its spaces even harder. Numerous parents in the United Arab Emirates have at one point complained that their children are always on smartphones and other handheld devices to access the Internet and especially social media (Al-Jenaibi). Empirical researches suggest that social media can have a lot of influence on the life of a young person, both positive and negative, depending on how he or she uses it (Al-Jenaibi). The easy availability of smartphones has contributed greatly to the increase of the number of children who have access to the global network and, as a result, became an influential agent in the aspects of children’s socialization and general development.
Although many positive aspects of the global network exist, the negative effects on children are also numerous. Previous studies found out that children who spend most of their time on social media tend to be more antisocial and aggressive (Engelberg & Sjöberg). Antisocial behavior is characterized as a gross disparity between a person’s behavior and the prevailing social norms in the society (Engelberg & Sjöberg). The key symptoms are irresponsibility to social norms, lack of concern for the well-being of the others, incapacity to feel guilty or shame and disregard for rules. These kids tend to have fewer friends in the real world and are more secluded in the society (Engelberg & Sjöberg). Children antisocial behavior may include lying, non-compliance with rules, sneaking conduct or secretly destroying property. If there are no appropriate measures made, these actions patterns may continue to exist, eventually escalate in severity over time and then become a chronic behavior disorder.
The minds of young people are moldable. They are like blank slates ready to feed on any information they can access. Therefore, children are mostly socialized within their environment. When social media becomes the major agent of their communication with the external world, kids will tend to learn a lot from it and spend most of their time in chatting, playing games and interacting with other people. All of these hinder them from the interference in the real world. Therefore, social media can mold the way children behave. Recent findings suggest that children who spend most of their time on the numerous sites of the global network are risking of having delays in their social and emotional development (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson). The research also says that children who devote their excess time to the Internet find it difficult to concentrate during the classes, may have permanent attention distraction and, therefore, shorter attention spans (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson). Though the children may enjoy using the social media tools and virtual interaction with other people, in reality it may turn out to be problematic aspect regarding emotional issues. The reason for this is that they spend too much time in the virtual world, which is opposed to the real one.
As a result, some kids may find it uneasy to discern between imaginary world and reality (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson). When this is the case, their social skills and abilities to listen actively and make small talks are greatly affected. It is evident that if too much time is wasted on social media rather than real life interaction, then there is bound to be a detraction from the time left on human contacts. It can cause a delay or distortion of the emotional and social development (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson).
A large part of these types of advancement of today’s children occurs while they are on the Internet (Subrahmanyam, Greenfield, Kraut & Gross). Though the global network can be useful in many other ways, it is not of much greater value in developing the children’s social skills in comparison to real-world interaction with people. Consequently, when most of the social and emotional development of children occurs while they are on the Internet, it can lead to the missing of important lifetime aspects. They may find it difficult to interact properly with other individuals. Also, their communication skills may not be well developed in comparison to children who use them in a society. All the time that they spend on the Internet takes those kids away from in-person activities and face-to-face communication. Thus, they can become addicted to the Internet and, therefore, interfere with their daily functioning, which can eventually lead to harm or distress. (Subrahmanyam) An effect of this on the social development of children is that there is an increased chance that they may have depression, introversion, general and social anxiety and other maladaptive traces of behavior (Subrahmanyam). All these negative social implications may have a detrimental effect on the future of the young person.
Most Emirati parents have reported having much concerns when their children spend considerable amount of time using the Internet and social networks because they do not know who they are interacting with (Al-Jenaibi). The loss of parental control is one thing to blame for the scenario. Parents in one study, for instance, were asked to rate how the Internet has impacted their children’s development and social life. Although the families came from different backgrounds, most adults argued that their kids waste an unusually high amount of time on the Internet and hence that greatly hindered their socialization skills. As a group, all of these studies suggest that the global network and especially excessive use of social media sites influence the process of children’s development and socialization.
To carry out the research questions and ensure that a great amount of data is available, the most appropriate methodology to use will be qualitative as opposed to quantitative. The reason behind this is that qualitative research examines the personal meanings of the experiences and actions of individuals more deeply. Since the research is mostly concerned on this indeed, the qualitative method is the most appropriate to use because it is descriptive and occurs in a natural setting. Thus, it is bound to provide more in-depth outcomes which would result in better analyzing and, eventually, formulating of solutions.
The interviews will use semi-structured questions (see Appendix) to allow more open framework which results in increased focus and improved two-way communication (Opdenakker). The interviews provide both, the interviewee and interviewer, with some construction of work and, therefore, assist in directing the responses. Clarification is possible, except cases where the very structured interviews or questionnaires are used. Among the reasons why there is a preference for semi-structured interviews is that the preparation of questions can be done ahead of time and hence allows the interviewer to be well-prepared and competent during the talks. It also leaves the interviewees a freedom to express their views in a manner they deem the most appropriate to them. Finally, the semi-structured interviews provide information on not just the answer but also the reasons for them. However, the semi-structured interviews are intensive and time-consuming resources. These dialogues will be conducted on a one-on-one basis.
Berg and Lune recommend long interviews with no less than ten people asked to be phenomenological. Therefore, the sample will consist of fifteen parents. The participants will be chosen in a random way so that all parents would have an equal chance on taking part in the research. There will be some posters used in order to advertise the study. The broadsheets will have the tittle of the research and some of its questions. Also, it will offer assurance of the information confidence to the parents. One will have to use a random method to select the final participants from a number of people who will respond on the advertisement. Once the fifteen chosen people are known, they will be sent more details via email, which will also include a request for their informed consent. They will need to sign the letter and send it back.
The audiotaping will be used during the interviews in order to provide a better transcripts preparation and enable the access to the interview for the independent analysis. In measures of confidence, the recordings will be put in a secure place, and available for listening only in private. The thematic approach to the transcripts data analyzing will be used. Consequently, its usage will enable the identification of initial themes which will, in turn, build a framework for the organization of them in broader categories.
Limitations of the Study
The limit of the research will be no more than 20 participants because of time constraints in the interviewing process and the subsequent data analysis involved. The main economic issues to consideration during the research are the availability of the participants as well as the time needed for the interviews. The research has to be conducted at an appropriate time for parents in order not to disrupt their routine. Also, other problems that may arise need to be taken into account when planning the typing of dialogues with parents and carrying out other aspects of the project such as coding and analysis.
The collection of data would be made through the semi-structured interviews as opposed to structured interviews to give the participants to freedom in providing needed information and offer better responses for the study. There is a possibility to compensate the participants by handouts to effective monitoring of Internet use by their children.
- At what age did your child start to use social media sites?
- How much time in a day does your child access the Internet?
- How do you feel about the impact of social media on your child?
- What are the changes that you have noticed as a result of your child spending time on social media?
- What do you do to limit the time of Internet usage by your child?
- Which sites do you think your child mostly accesses when on the Internet?
- Do you think that the people your child interacts with online pose a threat?
- What negative impacts of the social media you know?
- How do you think, what is your role in ensuring that your child is not spending too much time on the Internet?
- How do you think the situation can be improved?