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"Everything kind of revolves around technology": a qualitative exploration of families' screen use experiences, and intervention suggestions
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-09, 01:34 authored by Lauren ArundellLauren Arundell, L Gould, N D Ridgers, Ana Maria Contardo AyalaAna Maria Contardo Ayala, K L Downing, J Salmon, A Timperio, J Veitch
BACKGROUND: Managing children's screen time is challenging for most families. Interventions have had limited success in reducing screen time, potentially due to a lack of understanding of the experiences, needs and recommendations of families. This study aimed to 1) understand the screen time experiences of families, particularly during COVID-19 lockdowns; and 2) explore parent and child suggestions for the design, components, and content of a screen time management program. METHODS: Parents and children from 30 families living in Victoria, Australia completed a semi-structured interview (63 interviews) via Zoom in October-November 2021. Parents were maged 40.8 (± 8.9) years and predominantly female (90%). Children were maged 11.4 (± 2.4) years and 47% female. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using inductive thematic analysis combined with a summative content analysis approach. RESULTS: Three themes under Aim 1 emerged. Theme 1) 'Screen time management experiences and practices', including rules and strategies, challenges, and the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns. Theme 2) 'Impact of screens on family interaction and communication' including conflicts within the family, reduced face-to-face interactions, and negative impact on child's behaviour and wellbeing. Theme 3) 'Benefits of increased screen time due to COVID-19 lockdowns' including continuation of social interactions, extracurricular activities, improved technology skills and using screens as a 'babysitter'. Findings from Aim 2 suggest that families want a screen time management program delivered online to parents and children, which includes static and interactive content that incorporates health information, alternative activities, cyber-safety information, tips for goal setting and rewards, screen monitoring tools, links to reputable information, and parent social connections. Reminders via text message or through the online platform would help maintain engagement in the program. CONCLUSIONS: Families are experiencing challenges in managing the complex balance between the increased need for screens and the impact it has on the family. These findings provide valuable parent and child insights to assist in developing screen time management programs that are created with an understanding of the needs and challenges of families.