Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Exploring Parents’ Everyday Experiences With Digital Media: Barriers and Opportunities for Digital Inclusion

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Abstract:  This article presents qualitative research findings on parents’ digital media practices. Through 32 in-depth interviews with parents of 0–6-year-olds in French-speaking Belgium, the study addresses digital inclusion by exploring the diverse ways parents experience and benefit (or not) from digital media. Our research uncovers the dual nature of digital media use in parenting, presenting both advantageous and problematic outcomes across four dialectical dimensions. Our work sheds light on how digital media can (a) offer informational support or constitute an informational challenge, (b) provide emotional assistance or cause emotional struggles, (c) grant access to social support or contribute to social pressures, and (d) serve as a tool for the daily organisation or complicate daily life. Our article also investigates the factors associated with either positive or negative outcomes. We show the role of personal, situational, social, and normative factors. To conclude, we identify strategies for childcare and parenting support professionals to promote digital inclusion among parents by addressing barriers to positive experiences and outcomes related to the use of digital media. By integrating the outcomes of parents’ experiences with digital media into discussions of digital inclusion, this article contributes to a comprehensive approach to promoting digital equity beyond questions of access and skills. It calls for user-centric strategies that consider the diverse experiences and concrete outcomes associated with digital media use and emphasises the importance of supporting parents and families regarding these tools.

Keywords:  Belgium; digital inclusion; media literacy; media practices; parenting support

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.8172


© Caroline Robbeets, Marie Bastien, Jerry Jacques, Baptiste Campion, Margaux Roberti-Lintermans, Aurore François, Laura Merla. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.