Parental Fears About Technology Can Make Things Worse

We have an interconnected generation where (for better or worse) we have a hyper awareness of everything that's happening around us. With social media, cable news and the constant pings and notifications of technology we are aware of many things beyond our control and far away from us. Our brains, bred for survival, struggle to differentiate between those immediate and far away threats. The result is we are more aware, and more afraid. And our increased fears affect parents our children.

Technology is a big source of fear. Parents are sometimes shut out of young people's online spaces and their conversations guarded by passwords makes us nervous. We don't understand the new rules of communication and etiquette. We don't understand what it's like to be a kid. We don't understand the algorithms in our apps. All of this creates a culture of panic, worry, anxiety, depression and fear.

A fearful parent can result in an authoritarian parenting style. This style is demanding, controlling and not responsive. If a parent is scared of the world outside they may insist on doing things at home a certain way, and control access to the outside world, which includes technology. Research shows that this type of parenting style produces fearful individuals, who then often repeat the same authoritarian upbringing with their own children.

Parenting style can also affect technology use. A 2017 study of students in Hong Kong found that those students who had a positive parenting style at home, with secure attachments, had better self-regulation skills. These self-regulation skills affected how much the students used their smartphones. When young people felt secure at home and with their parents, they felt less impulse to use their phones.

There's plenty to fear in the wide world out there, but we can't let our own fears dictate our parenting styles, and how we talk about tech in the home. Our reaction to those anxieties and desire to protect can end up having the opposite effect—even more tech use.

If you want to know more about parenting in technology you can have FREE digital parenting training with the Utah state sponsored provider of online safety, Digital Respons-Ability. Classes available in-person or virtual.

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the founder of Digital Respons-Ability, the Utah state sponsored provider of digital citizenship education. Contact them today at to arrange a free digital parenting class or student training. Check out their website at for other free resources and videos.


Gardner, Elena and Babik, Iryna, "The Effect of Parenting Style, Child's Temperament, and Child's Attachment Style on Out-Group Perception" (2021). 2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase. 156.

Rogers-Whitehead, Carrie. The 3Ms of Fearless Digital Parenting Proven Tools to Help you Raise Smart and Savvy Online Kids. (Skyhorse Publishing), 2021.

Kwan, H. C., & Leung, M. T. (2017). The structural model in parenting style, attachment style, self-regulation and self-esteem for smartphone addiction. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 3(1).

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Tuesday, 09 August 2022

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