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January 25, 2021

Family Media Use Planning With Teens—Is It Time for Shared Decision-making?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, Washington
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle
JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(4):349-350. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.5637

Managing screen use in an ever-evolving media landscape is a challenge for many families, particularly families with adolescents. Whereas with younger children, parents can more readily restrict access to screens and monitor screen use,1 adolescents are often in situations without direct parental oversight.2,3 The heightened role of screens in adolescent socialization and schoolwork further complicates the use of media-related strategies that require a high degree of parental control. Moreover, and consistent with self-determination theory,4 highly controlling parenting may thwart emergent adolescent needs for autonomy, limit the development of intrinsic motivation, and lead to noncompliance with parent-desired behaviors.5 Autonomy-supportive parenting is distinct from permissive or uninvolved parenting in that it includes a developmentally appropriate amount of parental involvement, with the goal of fostering increasing independence and self-regulation.6 Evidence suggests that autonomy-supportive parent communication about media use is associated with less media use concealment by adolescents.7 In sum, parent-identified and enforced rules alone are likely not sufficient for adolescents to gain the buy-in necessary for consistent implementation of limits on media use and may constrain the development of important self-determined motivation and skills necessary for self-regulation in the transition to independent living (eg, college).

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