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EMAC 2022 Annual

The use of parental control tools to monitor teenager screen time: effects on parental well-being and underlying mechanisms

Published: May 24, 2022


Leila Elgaaied-Gambier, TBS Business School; Laurent Bertrandias, Toulouse Business School; Yohan Bernard, University of Franche-Comté


Children’s smartphone overuse and digital addiction are among parents’ top concerns today. To help address this issue, IT firms have developed services to help parents monitor child screen time. However, little is known about how these technologies affect the psychology of their users. The literature on the impacts of parental control tends to focus on the well-being of children, often overlooking the effects of parenting control on the well-being of parents. The purpose of this research is to investigate the psychological outcomes associated with delegation of parental control to an app. We conducted one survey and two experiments among samples of parents. Our results suggest that delegation of parenting control to an app improves well-being by decreasing psychological overload and increasing parental efficacy. Our findings also suggest that parental control based on strict restriction of screen time is perceived to be more helpful to increase parental efficacy and well-being than educational tracking. Implications for IT companies are discussed.