Parenting in the media fast lane: the impact of new and traditional media on Australian mothers of young children
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At no time in history have Australian families had more media interaction and “screen time” (Screen Australia, 2011; Nielsen Online, 2008). This fact alone – the omnipresent nature of different media in Australian households – impacts parenting. This is a critical reflection on a formative study into the use and impact of both new and traditional media on parenting. Motivated by an opportunity to present our insights to the State’s leading agency for parenting matters in 2010, the researchers invited a group of Australian mothers to share their insights, concerns and highlights concerning parenting advice and the perceived impact of the media on their parenting. In this paper we reflect critically on literature surrounding parenting and the media, and the outcomes of a focus group and a parenting in the media workshop before moving on to outline a proposed programme of study, focused on the role (particularly new) media plays in influencing mothers’ parenting. Findings indicate that parents – in this case, mothers – cannot avoid engaging with both new and traditional media. However, mothers use different information channels for different types of information. Mothers are time poor but also depend on the media, in particular the internet, for parenting information and support. These findings have implications for marketers, keen to engage with parents, but also for government departments, whose role it is to deliver accurate, factual and often life-saving information.
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