The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age

ISBN : 9780199377107

Lynn Schofield Clark
328 Pages
159 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2014
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Ninety-five percent of American kids have Internet access by age 11; the average number of texts a teenager sends each month is well over 3,000. More families report that technology makes life with children more challenging, not less, as parents today struggle with questions previous generations never faced: Is my thirteen-year-old responsible enough for a Facebook page? What will happen if I give my nine year-old a cell phone? In The Parent App, Lynn Schofield Clark provides what families have been sorely lacking: smart, sensitive, and effective strategies for coping with the dilemmas of digital and mobile media in modern life. Clark set about interviewing scores of mothers and fathers, identifying not only their various approaches, but how they differ according to family income. Parents in upper-income families encourage their children to use media to enhance their education and self-development and to avoid use that might distract them from goals of high achievement. Lower income families, in contrast, encourage the use of digital and mobile media in ways that are respectful, compliant toward parents, and family-focused. Each approach has its own benefits and drawbacks, and whatever the parenting style or economic bracket, parents experience anxiety about how to manage new technology. With the understanding of a parent of teens and the rigor of a social scientist, Clark tackles a host of issues, such as family communication, online predators, cyber bullying, sexting, gamer drop-outs, helicopter parenting, technological monitoring, the effectiveness of strict controls, and much more. The Parent App is more than an advice manual. As Clark admits, technology changes too rapidly for that. Rather, she puts parenting in context, exploring the meaning of media challenges and the consequences of our responses-for our lives as family members and as members of society.


Foreword: The Parent App and the Parent Trap
Part I: Digital media and family communication
Ch. 1 Risk, digital media, and parenting in a digital age
Ch. 2 Communication in families: expressive empowerment and respectful connectedness
Ch. 3 How parents are mediating the media in middle class and in less advantaged homes
Ch. 4 Media rich and time poor: The emotion work of parenting in the digital age
Part II: Digital media and youth
Ch. 5 Identity 2.0: Young people and digital and mobile media
Ch. 6 Less advantaged teens, ethnicity, and digital and mobile media: respect, restriction, and reversal
Part III: Cautionary tales
Ch. 7 Cyberbullying girls, helicopter moms, and Internet predators
Ch. 8 Strict parents, gamer high school dropouts, and shunned overachievers
Ch. 9 Conclusion: Parenting in a digital age: The mediatization of family life and the parent app
Appendix A: Methods
Appendix B: Parents, children, and the media landscape: resources
Appendix C: The Family Digital Media contract

About the author: 

Lynn Schofield Clark is Associate Professor in Media, Film, and Journalism Studies, and Director of the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver. Her books include Religion, Media, and the Marketplace (Rutgers University Press, 2007); From Angels to Aliens (Oxford University Press, 2005), and with Stewart M. Hoover Practicing Religion in the Age of the Media (Columbia University Press, 2002).

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