Family Technology Rules

Parents and children both use technology actively and increasingly, but prior work shows that concerns about attention, family time, and family relationships abound. We conducted a survey with 249 parent-child pairs distributed across 40 U.S. states to understand the types of technology rules (also known as restrictive mediation) they have established in their family and how effective those rules are perceived to be. Our data robustly show that children (age 10-17) are more likely to follow rules that constrain technology activities (e.g., no Snapchat) than rules that constrain technology use in certain contexts (e.g., no phone at the dinner table). Children find context constraints harder to live up to, parents find them harder to enforce, and parents’€™ most common challenge when trying to enforce such rules is that children can’t put it down.€ This is consistent with the idea that banning certain technologies is currently easier than setting more nuanced boundaries. Parents and children agree that parents should also unplug when spending time with family, while children alone express frustration with the common parent practice of posting about children online. Together, our results suggest several mechanisms by which designers and families can improve parent-child relationships around technology use. This work was published at CSCW 2015.

Family using technology together Graph showing most popular technology rules in families


Alexis Hiniker
Sarita Schoenebeck
Julie Kientz


  • Hiniker, A., Schoenebeck, S. Y., & Kientz, J. A. (2016, February). Not at the Dinner Table: Parents’ and Children’s Perspectives on Family Technology Rules. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1376-1389). ACM.