By Andrew Eisner
A parent’s job is never finished, especially when it comes to keeping up with the technology that children so easily seem to understand. If you’re a parent today, chances are, you’re well aware that your job has grown far beyond making sure homework is completed and everyone gets to school on time.
Today’s parents have Facebook, Twitter and a whole new world of social tools to consider when it comes to raising their children and even getting some well-deserved socializing in for themselves, and leading the way in most digital activities are iPhone owning parents, or “iParents” as we affectionately call them.
In an effort to help parents understand what other parents are doing (and not doing) in the social space, Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping and review site commissioned a Gadgetology study to look at the changing role of parents in this new age of technology.
iPhone parents collect more Facebook friends
Have you ever wondered if a “magical device” like an iPhone has the power to make a parent more popular on Facebook? Apparently, it can’t hurt. When compared with the general parent population, iPhone owning parents are more likely to be social on Facebook than the average parent. Retrevo found that 13% of iPhone owning parents had more than 500 Facebook friends as opposed to only 8% of all parents who had more than 500 Facebook friends.
If you know a mom or dad with an iPhone, it’s probably safe to assume they’re well connected on Facebook. iPhone owners were also the least likely (5%) to have a small amount of Facebook friends, as opposed to 20% of all parents. This is not too surprising to us, as many of Retrevo’s previous studies have found that iPhone owners tend to be more digitally active than other groups.
Bringing up baby, with Facebook
Since the dawn of time (or at least as long as most of us can remember), parents have always wanted to know who their kids are hanging out with, and even who the parents of their kids’ friends are. In an age when so many people are on Facebook, it’s become a go-to background checker for a good number of parents.
Have you ever used Facebook to learn more about one of your children’s friends? If so, you’re not the only one. As today’s children grow and expand their social sphere, a parent’s desire to keep track of their children’s acquaintances also increases. By the time children are teenagers, 47% of parents say they’ve used Facebook to learn about their kid’s friends. However, once kids reach age 20 and typically become more independent, parents seem to loose interest in learning more about their kids’ friends through Facebook (18%).
Retrevo also found that parents use Facebook to learn more about other parents. Up to 34% of parents admit to using Facebook to check on their kid’s friend’s parents, by the time their children are between ages 13 and 19 years old.
Facebook and dating: does your iPhone-owning-father know best?
When it comes to dating, today’s parents have access to information sure to make concerned parents of yester-year jealous. Depending on how their kid’s have adjusted their privacy settings, parents can track their location, social updates, pictures and even videos of their kids at all times.
However, with access to this kind of information, the number of parents who actually use Facebook to learn more about their kid’s dates is surprisingly low (12%). Retrevo found that iPhone owning parents (20%) are almost twice as likely to use Facebook to learn more about who their kids date than the average parent. Retrevo also found that dads are more likely to use Facebok to learn more about their kid’s dates(13%) as opposed to moms (10%).
While it might seem like mom’s traditional role, we found that, when it comes to learning more about their children’s dates, dads were more likely to take over the background check (13%). I’d imagine that any of today’s suitors taking one of “daddy’s little girls” to the prom should be careful what they post.
The gravity of social media
The proliferation of connected devices in people’s lives and the amount of information shared daily left us wondering what percentage of parents are most likely to be affected by social media’s gravity. If you’re a parent and you’ve ever felt like you couldn’t stop using Facebook or Twitter even if you wanted to, guess what? You’re not alone. Retrevo found that 12% of all parents feel the same way and this number more than doubles when looking at iPhone owning parents (19%).
Fortunately, most parents seem to exhibit normal social media usage patterns, but we did find that 11% of them said they’ve given up activities they used to enjoy because they spend time on Facebook or Twitter. 18% of iPhone owning parents feel the same way (compared to only 12% of Droid owning parents).
Retrevo also found that iPhone owning parents are twice as likely to get nervous or anxious if they don’t check Facebook/Twitter (28%).
Gadgets and social media are becoming an increasing presence in parent’s lives, for better or worse, with “iDevices” largely leading the way. The days where kids shared a single landline with the household are disappearing as constantly connected families explore this brave (and even new) world of social media communication, its benefits and consequences.
For more about Retrevo’s report go to http://bit.ly/kP9Lvq
(Andrew Eisner is a computer journalist and the director of content for the consumer electronics shopping and review site Retrevo.com. Retrevo.com is one of the largest consumer electronics review and shopping sites in the world, helping people decide what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and graphically summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident purchasing decisions for electronics.)