TOP > Data > Digital Media and Children > [Survey of Media Use by Children and Parents] 2-1. Family Rules for Media Use and Web Filtering

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[Survey of Media Use by Children and Parents] 2-1. Family Rules for Media Use and Web Filtering


We conducted a comparison analysis of survey data by media type regarding family rules for children's media use as part of parental involvement. It revealed that many families have some rules regarding children's watching TV programs, videos and DVDs. These include setting a time limit, setting the time of day to watch/use them, deciding the distance from the monitor, and other viewing conditions. For the use of new media such as smartphones and tablets, however, few families have specific rules. It also revealed that most parents do not use filtering functions, as they seem to be difficult for parents to handle.

More parents set family rules for children's watching TV programs, videos and DVDs, while relatively fewer parents are concerned about screen time and eye strain related to children's smartphone use

To what extent do parents set family rules for children's media use? Respondents who replied that they own media devices at home were asked whether they set family rules for each media. The survey results (Table 2-1-1) reveal that the percentage of parents who set family rules for each media except game consoles increases as the age of children increases. For gaming players, only few families applied as the sample group in the lower age groups, and many families prohibit their children from using the device.

With respect to whether parents set a time limit, more than 30% of respondents with 1-year-olds and above have set rules for watching TV programs and videos/DVDs, and over 30% of parents of 3-year-olds and above alike have set rules for the use of PCs, tablets and smartphones. In particular, more than 50% of mothers with children aged 6 years replied they set a time limit when children use videos/DVDs, PCs and tablets. On the other hand, the sample size regarding the use of handheld gaming players is small, but more than 50% of mothers with 5-year-olds or older replied that they set a time limit on the use of gaming players, indicating that parents are concerned about the length of time children use gaming devices. As for all types of devices, the results show that most parents have set rules for the length of time children use the media.

As for setting rules on the time of day to watch/use media, more than 30% of mothers of 1-year-olds and older replied that they let children watch TV programs, more than 30% of 4-year-olds and above have set rules for the time of day to watch videos/DVD, and more than 30% of 5-year-olds and above have rules for the time of day to use handheld gaming players. However, for other media devices, few parents had set rules on the screen time. Looking at the result indicating that smartphones are often used while waiting for something on an outing, the use of smartphones may not yet be a habitual activity for children in their daily life. With respect to whether parents censor content, more than 30% of mothers replied that they censored the viewing of TV programs and videos/DVDs for their children aged 1 year and older, the use of PCs and tablets for those aged 3 years and older, the use of smartphones for those aged 2 years and older, and the use of handheld gaming players for those aged 5 years and older. In particular, more than 50% of mothers with children aged 6 years replied that they censored the viewing/use of TV programs, videos/DVDs, PCs and tablets. These results indicate that parents consider it important to censor the content of whatever media their children use.

As for whether parents set rules on the distance from the monitor and brightness of room, more than 30% of mothers replied that they set these two rules for the viewing of TV programs and videos/DVDs for children aged 6 months and older, which is earlier than other rules. In particular, more than 50% of mothers replied that they set the rules for TV programs and videos/DVDs for their children aged 1 year and older, PCs for those aged 4 years and older, handheld gaming players for children aged 5 years and older, and tablets for those aged 6 years and older. These items are all related to eyesight, indicating that parents are seriously concerned about loss of vision due to eye strain. In contrast, only 20-30% of parents with children of all ages set rules for smartphones. This is probably because it is rather difficult to avoid eye strain when using smartphones due to the small screen size and frequent use in transit.

As for the use of media during mealtime, more than 30% of parents prohibited their children aged 1 year and older from watching TV programs, those aged 2 years and older from watching videos/DVDs and using smartphones, those aged 3 years and older from using PCs and tablets, and those aged 5 years and older from using handheld gaming players. The above results indicate that the majority of parents place importance on mealtimes and prohibit their children from media viewing during meals, regardless of media type.

As for cautioning children when rules on media viewing/use were not followed, more than 30% of mothers replied that they reminded children aged 2 years and older regarding the viewing/use of TV programs, videos and DVDs, and smartphones, and those aged 3 years and older on the use of PCs and tablets, while more than 50% of parents reminded children aged 5 years and older of the rules for all types of media. These results indicate that parents are trying to encourage their children to recognize the importance of observing family rules as they grow older.

Table 2-1-1 Family rules for media use

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Only few use filtering functions for any type of media

Do parents filter the media content used by their children? We asked respondents whether they set a filtering function for digital media used by children. The survey results (Table 2-1-2) show that those who replied that they set a filtering function for PCs, tablets, smartphones and mobile phones, console gaming players or handheld gaming players fell short of 10%.

It seems relatively difficult for parents to prevent the improper use of media by children with filtering functions. Perhaps this is because parents consider that bullying and other trouble arising from the Internet such as online dating sites, which is a concern for children of primary school age and older, does not occur among children under 6 years of age since parents can monitor the content of media used and viewed by their children at any time. However, there are still some concerns such as computer virus infection due to the misuse of PCs by children (by randomly clicking) or undue charges due to the misuse of telephone and messenger functions. Nowadays, some applications are available to limit the functions of smartphones and tablets and easily restrict the use of these devices by children. Some can limit the types of applications to be used, the connection to the Internet, and the length of usage. In the future, it is likely that more parents will use such applications to monitor their children's media use.

Table 2-1-2 Percentage of web filtering

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