Is it possible to create dialogue between students and parents concerning children’s mobile phone use? Our experiences from students – parents – students – discussions.

What do parents need to know about their children’s mobile phone use?

We were interested in to find out the viewpoint of both students and their parents on children’s mobile phone use. We also wanted to create an opportunity for both children and parents to comment each others’ views. There were three meetings organised. First with pupils, then with parents (with a few pupil participants), and finally with pupils again.

We first presented a question to the pupils: What do adults need to know about your mobile phone use?

The answers that we got:

With a lot of notices arriving,

the parents say that you’ve been on the phone far too long,

you need to put the phone away.

But the messages may have something important,

for instance in Instagram

they should all be read.

Adults should understand

that it takes time

and that the messages need to be reacted to

the sender sees

whether the message has been read or not.


What did we learn?

On the phone, you have to do things when they happen, in real time, now.

The message that the children wanted to convey to the parents was that they should believe that things on the phone are important.


Parents need to trust children with mobile phones.

Parents are too curious,

constantly asking who you are talking to,

in Facetime, for example.

Parents believe

that everything we do on the phone

is playing.

Parents want to know everything,

for example, what is done in the snapchat.

What did we find out? The students would like parents to trust that a child knows what he/she is doing on the phone.

Parents ask

(because they are not there)

what my big sister puts on the Instagram.

My mom wants to look at social media

to know what I do.

It is annoying

because it is a private matter

Mothers should not know everything,

but other adults are not as disturbing as mothers.

It is distressing

if the mother is in Snap and she sees what I do.

Social media is not for parents!


What should be taken into notice? Parents should understand that mobile phone is a private matter.

We raised the question, what then about the risks and the parents’ will to protect the children?

Parents should understand

what the child is doing.

I am mainly aware of what I am doing

and I can protect myself.

For instance Instagram is private

and I decide the followers.


What do the parents respond?

This conversation was followed by a parents’ meeting in which the thoughts of the children were discussed, first in small groups, then shared.

Children do not have to be always available.

Parents have to take the role of a police

even if they would not like to.

Time restrictions are a good idea:

to agree in advance

how to spend time in social media

Liking/following your friends –

is it always so important?

You should be able to take time for yourself.


Mobile phone disrupts the everyday school and sleeping,

these are the main reasons why phone use needs to be limited.

Mobile phones define the lives of families,

how about other activities?

We worry about an unlimited world

just by Googling you enter whatever contents in the Internet.

As long as children and parents communicate,

it is OK

but there can be “a double life”

we are concerned that my child may fake.


And other issues by the parents…

We feel the need to find more positive perspectives

the whole issue is so negatively charged.

Could the mobile phone be taken off for a week or two?

“There would be nothing to do, but a child would not die”


What did we learn? For both parents and children we were talking about important things! There were strong roles that were not voluntarily taken but that more or less fell on the parents as police and the pupils as fighting for their privacy and right to connect and responsibilities towards friends in social media.


How do the children react to parents’ responses?

The third round of discussions happened when we returned to the students with the parents’ views. When we brought the parent perspectives back to the children, they were not interested in commenting them anymore. There was no interest in dialogue. Pupils consensus was: ”We have already told our opinions, there is nothing else to add”.

What left us thoughtful:

Why did the pupils reject the chance of a dialogue with their parents?

Did they feel safe about the strong roles that had emerged – did they feel good about their parents taking the police role?