44% of Parents Struggle to Follow Tech Rules They Set for Their Kids

Parents perceive norms of behavior to be different for themselves and their children, according to Kaspersky..

November 2, 2021

4 Min Read


Woburn, MA – November 2, 2021 – Today Kaspersky released the results of a global survey that examined digital habits within families and found that 44% of American parents and 61% of parents globally find it hard to be role models for their kids. More than half of parents in the U.S. (55%) and around the world (54%) said they try to establish healthy digital habits and rules for all family members, even if they can’t always follow them.

According to the study, 64% of American kids (68% globally) receive devices before the age of nine. With that in mind, parents often seek to be role models when it comes to tech usage.

The survey found that parents perceive norms of behavior to be different for themselves and their children. For instance, almost half (48%) of global respondents admitted that they spend three to five hours on devices every day (43% in the U.S.), and the majority (62% globally; 56% in the U.S.) consider this time to be normal.

When it comes to children, almost half (48% globally; 47% in the U.S.) spend the same amount of time on devices as their parents – three to five hours a day. But, despite this, many adults (53% globally; 42% in the U.S.) would like their kids to spend less time on devices.

Respondents considered certain behaviors to be acceptable for themselves but not for their children. For example, 46% of American adults believe it’s normal to share photos of family members on social networks. But only 27% of them said they think this is acceptable for their children.

Twenty-four percent of respondents in the U.S. also consider it reasonable to skip calls and turn off their phone so that no one can contact them. However, only 12% of them think such behavior is acceptable for kids.

“Today, more and more parents are trying to establish healthy digital habits alongside those for nutrition and daily regimes, etc.,” said Marina Titova, vice president, consumer product marketing at Kaspersky. “But there is no clear trend or strong behavior pattern regarding how to specifically establish those rules for digital practices. At the same time, our survey results show that most adults (61% globally) admit finding it hard to be a role model and that they occasionally don’t follow the rules they set for their kids. To help parents to establish healthy digital practices, there are a variety of techniques and tools available to support them. These can be included through roleplay and games, or for a more technical approach, solutions such as apps are available that can help control screen time or determine a child’s physical location.”

“Digital consumption shapes the relationship between parents and children and, more importantly, it impacts a child’s development,” said Birgitt Hölzel and Stefan Ruzas from the psychology practice Liebling + Schatz. “Research shows that infants develop feeding and sleep problems, for example, when parents use digital media while caring for them. This is a serious indication of an incipient attachment disorder. Children learn by imitating. That’s why you should always consider what kids see in concrete terms. Do their parents always have their smartphone in their hands or even at the table when they’re eating? Let us not forget that parents are always setting an example for their children.”

The full report is available via this link.

To help children spend their time on the internet securely, you can:

  • Surf and learn together. See where children spend their time online and identify how best to keep them safe.

  • Consider downloading parental control apps and discuss this topic with your child to explain how such apps work and why they need them to stay safe online.

  • Involve yourself in children’s online activities from an early age, so this is the established norm, and so you can mentor them.

About the survey

In September 2021, Kaspersky commissioned Sapio to conduct an online survey of 11,000 respondents to explore the role of healthy digital habits in the family, as well as the effect of parenting habits on children and vice versa. The survey involved adults who live with their children aged 7-12 years old, full-time. The sample included 1,000 respondents from the UK, France, and Germany; and 500 in each of the following: US, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Columbia, Russia, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.

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