Bottom-up technology transmission within families : how children influence their parents in the adoption and use of digital media




Correa, Teresa

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This dissertation investigated the bottom-up technology transmission process in a country with varied levels of technology diffusion, such as Chile. In particular, I explored how children act as technology brokers within their families by influencing their parents' adoption of and learning about digital media, so as to include older generations in the digital environment. In order to do this, I measured to what extent this process occurs, I proposed a typology of factors that intervene in the process and analyzed the outcomes variables related to the phenomenon. Methodologically, I used a mixed-methods research approach by combining in-depth interviews with a self-administered paper-and-pencil survey taken by dyads of one parent and one child. I analyzed 28 interviews involving one 12 to 18-year-old child and one parent or legal guardian (14 dyads) stratified by socioeconomic background, age, and gender. In addition, I conducted the parent-child survey among school-aged children and their parents in three schools, stratified by socioeconomic status. One class per cohort from 7th to 11th grades was randomly surveyed. In total, 381 students and 251 parents completed the surveys. The analyses showed that bottom-up technology transmission occurs at some degree for all the technologies investigated in this study. However, children's influence should not be overstated because they play only one part among a number of factors involved in the digital inclusion of older generations. It also established a typology of factors related to the process at different levels, including structural influences, family structure, strategies employed by youth, and psychological dispositions of parents. Specifically, the analyses consistently found that this process was more likely to occur among people from a lower socioeconomic status. Also, the transmission was associated with more fluid parent-child interactions and occurred among parents who perceived the technology to be useful. Regarding the outcome variables, it demonstrated that this phenomenon is linked, although weakly, to greater levels of perceived competence among parents and higher esteem among young people. Finally, it suggested that bottom-up technology transmission is associated with the reduction of some socioeconomic gaps in digital media use.



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