Parent perspectives on young children’s changing digital practices: Insights from Covid-19

Publication Name

Journal of Early Childhood Research


Young children’s use of digital technologies has presented challenges for parents, particularly in response to an increased reliance on digital resources during the Covid-19 pandemic. This mixed-methods study explored young children’s digital practices within the context of their families and homes. Although this study was originally planned, the timing of data collection meant that it was uniquely positioned to capture parent perspectives as the pandemic and first lockdown was unfolding in Australia. Data was collected through questionnaire (N = 101) and semistructured interview (n = 20) about status and change in children’s digital practices, and parents’ rules and flexibility in governing these experiences. Quantitative findings suggested children’s frequency and duration of digital device use trended upwards during lockdown, and parents were more flexible in their rules about the amount of screen time, as well as when and where children could use digital devices. Qualitative results suggested that, more than a temporary and situational change, for many parents, exposure to new ways of engaging with digital technologies facilitated a shift in their perceptions, leading to greater consideration of quality in their choices for their children. This study highlights the influential role of parents in shaping children’s digital experiences. Understanding their perceptions, as well as children’s current and shifting digital practices in the home, is important for informing efforts and guidance for supporting young children’s safe and effective use of digital technologies.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)