Background Associations between frequent parental digital distraction with diminished parent-child interactions are emerging. The label ‘technoference’ refers to interruptions in interpersonal relationships or time spent together due to technological device. Evidence suggests that parental technoference may predispose children’s internalising and externalising behaviours. The current scoping review aims to summarise existing literature from published research articles concerning the behavioural and health impacts of parental technoference, specifically mental health (e.g depression, anxiety, addiction) and deviancy (e.g. cyberbullying), on young people aged between 11 and 18.
Methods In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA). An extensive search for peer reviewed studies was undertaken within six data bases (APA PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ASSIA, ERIC, Social Sciences Premium Collection, SciTech Premium). Three reviewers independently assessed the titles and abstracts of each article to ascertain eligibility for inclusion. For inclusion, journal articles reported original data concerning the impact of parental technoference on adolescent mental health or deviant behaviours. Bias was assessed with the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklists for analytical cross-sectional and cohort studies. A narrative approach was applied to synthesise the retrieved data.
Results Searches retrieved 382 articles, of which 13 met the final eligibility criteria; all studies implemented quantitative methods. Ten of the 13 studies examined the impact of parental technoference on adolescent mental health and five studies explored the relationship between parental technoference and adolescent deviant behaviour however, the studies were not mutually exclusive to these categories. Across all studies, adolescent perceptions of parental technoference were negatively associated to adolescent mental health and were positively related to deviant behaviours. A correlation was also identified between adolescent perceptions of frequent technoference and adolescents technoference. Parental cohesion and psychological constructs were significant mediating factors.
Conclusion Preliminary findings conclude that the impact of parental technoference may be indirectly associated with parental unresponsiveness. Thus, suggesting that parents should be aware of their environment of which they use electronic devices and how this can directly and indirectly influence adolescent health and behaviour. Further research into the impact of parental technoference is needed to inform realistic guidelines for family management of their devices. Future investigations into the underlying mechanisms and moderating factors would contribute to identifying those who are more vulnerable to parental technoference. Enhancing the understanding of adolescent attitudes towards parental digital device use within the family context would support the establishment of practical limits for use within household.
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