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Saturday, September 9 • 9:00am - 9:33am
CANCELLED - Learning from or Leaning On? How Children Affect Internet Use by Adults'

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Scholars have observed that children and teenagers can promote Internet adoption among adults by increasing exposure and positively influencing skills acquisition. However, it is also possible that the presence of children in the household discourages online engagement by adults, who may lean on children to act as proxy users. Both processes have been theorized, but the net result of these seemingly opposite effects has yet to be empirically tested. This study seeks to provide such as test by examining how the presence of children in the household affects Internet use by adults. It draws on data from large-scale household surveys in six countries in Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay). These countries were selected based on the availability of comparable data, and are representative of the different contexts found in the region

The study makes several unique contributions to the extant scholarship on Internet adoption and family dynamics. First, the data is sourced from government-administered, nationally-representative household surveys. This allows for more precise statistical estimations and the use of causal inference techniques that are unfeasible in studies with small or non-representative samples. Second, the study advances our understanding of the role that children play in online engagement by adults, as well as of the factors that affect the tension between learning from and leaning on. Third, the study hypotheses are tested separately in different country contexts, thus strengthening the validity of results. Fourth, we employ a matching technique that significantly mitigates self-selection problems found in conventional regression analysis. This allows for a more robust estimation of causal effects than found in the existing literature.

Our results corroborate that children are a key factor in households’ decision to adopt Internet services, and that their role increases with children’s age and when children use the Internet at school. However, we also find that the presence of children is negatively correlated with Internet use by adults. Further, our matching estimates indicate that this effect is likely causal. This suggests that the intergenerational transfer of ICT knowledge and skills from children to adults is outweighed by leaning effects whereby parents rely on children to perform online tasks for them, ultimately discouraging engagement. We find this result to be consistent across countries and robust to different specifications. The study concludes with policy implications for digital inclusion initiatives and suggestions for further research in this area.

Moderators
MJ

Mark Jamison

PURC, University of Florida

Presenter

Saturday September 9, 2017 9:00am - 9:33am
ASLS Hazel - Room 120

Attendees (5)