A study of 75 children and their families found that parents spend more time talking with kids about the mechanics of using their mobile devices than they do about what their kids watch and download on those devices.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found some concerning trends in how families and children communicate about media today.
Children who participated in this study wore recording devices at home, which recorded talking, conversations or other sounds nearby, as well as audible screen media use.
The researchers specifically observed minimal conversation about the content of programs that children were watching.
Moreover, the researchers learned that other family members appeared to play an important role when content is discussed.
Children, not parents, initiated most conversations about content, and older siblings played a much bigger role than parents in content mediation for younger siblings.
The study also found that children as young as toddlers were exposed to multiple media sources at one time, or media multitasking; negotiations and conflict were common among parents and children; and parallel family media use was common, which means different family members used their own devices at the same time.
The researchers recommended developing a family media plan. Parents could also recruit older children to help younger siblings make good content choices. Studies showed that parental mediation led to better outcomes for children.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.