Māori and Pasifika parents worry about kids’ tech use, survey reveals

By Contributor
Photo /File

By NZ Herald

Health insurer nib New Zealand has released further findings from its fourth annual State of the Nation Parenting Survey that reveal Māori and Pacific Island parents are more concerned about the time their children spend online.

The survey, conducted annually with research company One Picture, canvassed the views of 1226 parents, step-parents and guardians of children under 18.

The survey revealed that more Pacific Island parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend on screens than the general population (98 per cent vs 75 per cent nationwide).

Pacific Island parents are also more likely to give their kids social media accounts later in life (16 years old vs 14 years old).

And in the last 6 months, 32 per cent of Māori parents have blocked certain apps/features on their child’s device (vs 25 per cent nationwide) and 25 per cent have been given access to their child’s device (vs 19 per cent nationwide).

Nathan Wallis, nib's resident parenting expert. Photo / Supplied

Overall, technology use and the impact of screen time is the number one concern for 70 per cent of parents.

Yet 50 per cent said children spent too much time on devices, and 66 per cent admit to relying on screens as a bargaining chip and distraction tool for children.

Seventy per cent of parents have taken action: limiting kids’ screen time (52 per cent) and taking away devices as punishment (57 per cent).

This year the survey shows technology use continues to drag on parents, with the real impacts on health and wellbeing increasingly evident.

Technology use remains the number one worry for 70 per cent of parents, with 24 per cent “extremely concerned”. The amount of time kids spend online worried 75 per cent of parents; other major concerns were inappropriate content (74 per cent), online bullies and predators (66 per cent) and the negative impact on health and wellbeing (47 per cent).

Nathan Wallis, nib’s parenting expert, said parents are in an incredibly difficult position given how integrated devices are today in our work and home lives.

“The increase in the number of hours people spend working from home means that kids see their parents using devices more often, which is unavoidable. It also puts parents in a complex situation when it comes to disciplining screen time,” Wallis said.

“Intentionally spending time as a family, with no devices in hand, or putting your phone out of sight around mealtimes, models positive behaviour and can help remove the double standard otherwise in play.

“Try encouraging your kids to find activities, like crafts, sport or games that don’t require a screen. And remember, getting kids to adhere to rules can be a lot easier when they feel they’ve been part of the conversation. Work out an agreement together and find a healthy balance.”

He said parents are always keen to set a healthy example for their children, but in a world dominated by technology, sometimes this is easier said than done. In fact, fewer than half of respondents (40 per cent) believed they model good behaviour with their device use.

Parents acknowledge that devices are needed at school but want to encourage their kids to limit use at home. Parents of children at primary school were significantly more likely (83 per cent) to limit screen time than parents of children of other ages.

Rob Hennin, nib New Zealand chief executive, notes this has been a perennial theme in the survey.

“It’s no secret that during Covid lockdowns parents often felt they had few choices but to allow their kids extra screen time. But 47 per cent of parents remain concerned about the negative impact of device use on their kids’ health and wellbeing,” Hennin said.

“Technology is here to stay. And in many ways, it makes our lives better. For parents, it’s about striking the right balance, so it’s really inspiring to see that parents are being proactive.”