Help Science Help You Control Your Kids' Tech Use

female hands typing on a laptop
female hands typing on a laptop

As technology become more omnipresent and complicated, so do parents' questions about what all these devices are doing to their kids. Scientists are asking too, and one group is looking for 50,000 parents nationwide -- you perhaps? -- to help find answers.

Starting today, a consortium of researchers is conducting a survey of parents with children in grades K-12, and they've asked us to ask you to head to their website and take 10 minutes to answer some questions.

The project, called The Learning Habit Study, is the work of Good Parent Inc., a website with the goal of presenting scientific information to help parents make knowledgable parenting choices. The actual research is being done jointly by Brown University's Alpert Medical School, The National Children’s Medical Center, and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology. These groups have agreed to share early results with The Huffington Post, Parents Magazine, WebMD and the National PTA starting in April, and then report their final findings at the August meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Rebecca Jackson, the founder of Good Parent, explains that the subject is central to modern parenting, but at the moment there are more questions than answers. The ubiquitous presence of technology means “we are putting a very powerful device in our children’s hands and we aren’t sure what our rights and obligations are when it comes to monitoring its useage,” she says. “One of the outcomes I would like to see from this survey is some guidelines that parents can use.”

As the mother of a teenage son, she says, taking the survey herself was eye-opening and personal. “It’s not a passive study,” she says. “It’s designed to make parents think about their involvement in their child’s life. It digs deeper than traditional studies, and it feels more intimate.” For instance, she said, “I spent a lot of time thinking before I answered the questions of whether I control my child’s cell phone use. It really made me look at what I actually do.”