Date of Award

9-27-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Menna, Rosanne

Keywords

Aggression, Displacement Hypothesis, Mobile Technology, Qualitative, Self-Regulation, Young Children

Rights

CC-BY-NC-ND

Abstract

The present study tested the displacement hypothesis, which proposed that mobile technology use disrupts important daily activities and social interactions that are important for the development of young children’s self-regulation skills (Gentile et al., 2012). As a result of this displacement, children are more likely to become dysregulated and aggressive. Participants were 174 caregivers (n = 157 mothers) who reported on their children aged 2 to 5 years old (n = 100 male). All participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing their own technology use, interference in the parent-child relationship due to mobile technology, and the use of mobile technology as a parenting tool. Caregivers also reported on their children’s use of mobile technology, participation in the environment, self-regulation, aggressive behaviour, and temperament. A subset of 15 caregivers (n = 14 mothers) also answered open-ended interview questions about their attitudes, perceptions, and experiences regarding mobile technology use in the family. The analyses revealed that mobile technology use by both caregivers and children negatively impacted young children’s self-regulation and aggressive behaviour. Greater use of mobile technology was found to displace daily activities and social interactions, leading to greater dysregulation and aggression. Results also demonstrated that greater use of mobile technology as parenting tools mediated the relation between greater mobile technology use and children’s aggressive behaviour. A thematic analysis of caregivers’ interviews revealed that caregivers have many strategies to monitor their children’s media activity, concerns about the negative impacts of mobile technology, and tensions about using these devices in the family. The novelty of these findings address gaps in the literature by identifying various ways in which mobile technology can interfere with young children’s daily lives in a way that is detrimental for the development of their self-regulation and aggressive behaviour.

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