Parenting approaches and digital technology use of preschool age children in a Chinese community

Sau Ting Cynthia Wu, Cathrine Fowler, Yuk Yin Lam, Ho Ting Wong, Charmaine Hei Man Wong, Jean Tak Alice Loke Yuen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Young children are using digital technology (DT) devices anytime and anywhere, especially with the invention of smart phones and the replacement of desktop computers with digital tablets. Although research has shown that parents play an important role in fostering and supporting preschoolers' developing maturity and decisions about DT use, and in protecting them from potential risk due to excessive DT exposure, there have been limited studies conducted in Hong Kong focusing on parent-child DT use. This study had three objectives: 1) to explore parental use of DTs with their preschool children; 2) to identify the DT content that associated with child behavioral problems; and 3) to investigate the relationships between approaches adopted by parents to control children's DT use and related preschooler behavioral problems. Methods. This exploratory quantitative study was conducted in Hong Kong with 202 parents or guardians of preschool children between the ages of 3 and 6 attending kindergarten. The questionnaire was focused on four aspects, including 1) participants' demographics; 2) pattern of DT use; 3) parenting approach to manage the child's DT use; and 4) child behavioral and health problems related to DT use. Multiple regression analysis was adopted as the main data analysis method for identifying the DT or parental approach-related predictors of the preschooler behavioral problems. Results: In the multiple linear regression model, the 'restrictive approach score' was the only predictor among the three parental approaches (B:1.66, 95% CI: [0.21, 3.11], p < 0.05). Moreover, the viewing of antisocial behavior cartoons by children also significantly increased the tendency of children to have behavioral problem (B:3.84, 95% CI: [1.66, 6.02], p < 0.01). Conclusions: Since preschool children's cognitive and functional abilities are still in the developmental stage, parents play a crucial role in fostering appropriate and safe DT use. It is suggested that parents practice a combination of restrictive, instructive and co-using approaches, rather than a predominately restrictive approach, to facilitate their child's growth and development. Further studies are needed to explore the parent-child relationship and parents' self-efficacy when managing the parent-child DT use, to develop strategies to guide children in healthy DT use.
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014


  • Child health
  • Digital technologies
  • Internet
  • Parenting
  • Preschooler
  • Screen time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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