Kids & parents in the US vote TV as top relaxation tool: Nickelodeon study

MUMBAI: A research study conducted by Nickelodeon in the US, titled "The Digital Family" suggests that kids and parents believe that the television has become their medium of choice to relax. Contrary to popular belief, parents are embracing technologies just as much as kids, and view cell phones as essential part of managing their lives, while also providing kids more freedom.

"In today's modern family, parents and kids identify technology as a homework helper, virtual babysitter, time-keeper and a center piece of a lot of family time," said Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami. "We found that technology has brought the need for new skills while seemingly lessening the need for others. What is very apparent is the critical role technology is playing in helping modern families functions."

"The Digital Family" research incorporates findings from Nickelodeon's "Living in a Digital World" research project (2006), which explores technologies including: the internet, television, cell phones, mp3 players and more. "The Digital Family" offers insights from kids 8-14 and parents of kids 0-14, and references several findings from Nickelodeon commissioned studies (Multicultural Kids Study 2006 and Nickelodeon Wireless Study 2006), as well as Nielsen Media Research.

The research revealed that television is still front and center in family life. No other technology has been able to take its place. In fact, television usage has increased over the last four years (since 2002) by approximately two hours a week for both kids and parents.

Out of all the tech devices, TV seems to serve a different purpose, not only entertaining but also providing a key tool of relaxation for kids and parents in their daily lives.
Infact, 49 per cent of parents said that TV helps them escape from their daily lives, while a larger percentage of kids (75 per cent) said it helps them escape from stress.

Due to the use of the computer and internet - 26 per cent of parents and 24 per cent of kids agreed that it's no longer necessary to read the newspaper. Some kids and parents also believe that because of the internet, they no longer need to be good spellers or learn to read a map.

What's more, the effect of mp3 players suggests that:

- 23 per cent of parents and 33 per cent of kids 8-14 think there is no longer a need to make casual conversation.
- 21 per cent of parents and 31 per cent of kids think there is no need to listen to the radio anymore.
- 55 per cent of parents and 45 per cent of kids no longer see the need to purchase musical albums or CDs.

"The Digital Family" incorporated a deprivation study, where cell phones, the internet, television and mp3 players, among others, were taken away from participating kids and parents for a period of 10 days. The deprivation research identified how parents and kids value various technologies. In particular, it found that kids and parents equate safety and piece of mind to the cell phone and no other device provides these two values the way cell phones do. And because of "digital supervision" cell phones provide, kids are gaining more and more independence.

One parent said, "It's a tool for me to keep in touch with them and know where they are, and allow them a little more responsibility while still having my little claws on them."

Tech devices like computers and the internet have become essential tools in daily living, making kids and parents much more productive and self sufficient. In some instances, the internet has almost become part of the family.

Kids are as likely to use the internet for informational purposes as they are for entertainment. Nearly three quarters of kids use the internet for school work, says the study.

Challenging the conventional assumption that kids bring most of the newer technologies into the home and demonstrate to their parents how to use them, most parents interviewed reported that they are actually as tech savvy or more so than kids:

Additionally, parents are actually own cell phones, mp3 players and other devices just as much, or more so than kids. Only 2 per cent of parents are not online users and 29 per cent of kids are not using the internet.

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