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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Families and Technology market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • Parents: adults aged 18+ with at least one child under age 18 living in the household
  • Nonparents: adults without children under age 18 living in the household (may have adult children)

Families’ use of subscription-based music and video streaming services (eg Spotify, Netflix) and detailed findings on video gaming will not be addressed in this report. Streaming Audio – US, October 2018; and Pay TV – US, November 2018 for detailed coverage of these topics.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Kristen Boesel, a leading analyst in the Lifestyles and Leisure sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Mobile devices and digital platforms have significantly impacted the lives of kids, teens, and parents. Parents are divided on whether this impact is a good thing. They worry about people who may present a threat to their kids online and take varying measures to monitor and control their kids’ tech use. Less tangible threats, like collection of personal data and persuasive app design, do not appear to pose a barrier to the integration of virtual assistants and smart home technology. Kristen Boesel
Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definitions
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • Awareness of technology’s downsides will force a shift in tech brands’ messaging
              • Parents feel conflicted, but want unplugged family time
                • The best way to protect kids from the effects of technology remains unclear
                  • Predators and cyberbullies are an easily understood threat among parents
                    • Facebook revelations put data privacy on parents’ radar
                      • The opportunities
                        • There is a growing movement away from screens
                          • There is room for brands to take a stand against cyberbullies
                            • Older parents need empowering
                              • Transparency will win with families
                                • Parents want chances for their families to be together IRL
                                  • The family home is about to get smarter
                                    • What it means
                                    • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                      • Parents are able and willing to pay for new technology
                                        • Kids have access to tech
                                          • Social media is essential to parents and teens
                                            • Families embrace smart speakers
                                              • Research shows detrimental effects of tech devices and apps
                                              • The Market

                                                • Demographic trends
                                                  • Less than one third of US households have kids
                                                    • Figure 1: US households, by presence of own children <18, 2008-18
                                                  • Parents tend to have more money and are willing to spend on tech
                                                    • Figure 2: Median household income, by type of household, 2016
                                                    • Figure 3: Agreement with statement, by parents and non-parents, May 2018
                                                • Technology Ownership and Use

                                                  • Technology in the family home
                                                    • Figure 4: Tech devices used by families, November 2018
                                                  • Technology gets handed down
                                                    • Figure 5: Percentage of kids who use parents’ old devices, November 2018
                                                  • Smartphones and tablets
                                                    • Nearly all parents use smartphones
                                                      • Tablets provide families with flexibility
                                                        • Age 12 is a threshold for kids’ phone ownership
                                                          • Figure 6: Smartphone and tablet ownership among kids and teens, November 2018
                                                        • Social media
                                                          • Parents populate social media
                                                            • Figure 7: Adult social media users – Parents and nonparents, 2012-18
                                                          • Social media is integral to teen life
                                                            • Figure 8: Teens’ social media use and engagement, 2012-18
                                                          • Smart speakers
                                                            • Households with kids are more likely to have a smart speaker
                                                              • Figure 9: Children’s use of smart speakers, November 2018
                                                            • Parents trade one technology for another
                                                              • Opinion remains divided
                                                              • Issues Impacting the Market

                                                                • Better regulations needed to help protect kids
                                                                  • The UK has GDPR, but the US lacks similar legislation
                                                                    • COPPA is ineffective
                                                                      • Advertising in app games for kids goes unchecked
                                                                        • Figure 10: Screen capture of Doctor Kids app game
                                                                      • Modern technology has psychological implications, especially for kids
                                                                        • Persuasive design manipulates minds
                                                                          • Social media linked to depression and anxiety in kids, tweens, and teens
                                                                            • Disparities in household income drive a digital divide
                                                                              • Figure 11: Percentage of US adults who use the internet, by income, 2000-18
                                                                          • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                                            • Amazon and Alexa move in to the family home
                                                                              • Apple stumbles behind Google for classroom supremacy
                                                                                • Facebook targets kids…
                                                                                  • …but expertly executes Portal campaign
                                                                                    • Distracted parents parent poorly
                                                                                      • #DeviceFreeDinners offers marketing opportunities
                                                                                      • Mintel Tech Trends Impacting Families

                                                                                          • The Suite Life in the family home
                                                                                            • Both parents and kids are learning The Rules of Connection
                                                                                              • Parents feel a need to Switch Off
                                                                                              • What’s Working

                                                                                                • Amazon recognizes opportunity for kid-focused smart speaker
                                                                                                  • Figure 12: Echo Dot Kids Edition
                                                                                                • Case study: tech companies compete for the classroom
                                                                                                  • Where Apple went wrong
                                                                                                    • Figure 13: Use of tablet at schools, by age of child, November 2018
                                                                                                  • Why Google is winning
                                                                                                    • Ultimately, price and practicality matter most
                                                                                                      • TV ads for Facebook’s Portal highlight family closeness
                                                                                                        • Figure 14: Facebook Portal Commercial – Holidays
                                                                                                    • What’s Struggling

                                                                                                      • Smartphones addict and distract
                                                                                                        • Parents are distracted from parenting
                                                                                                          • Teens are concerned about their own use
                                                                                                            • Apple compromises on smart speakers
                                                                                                              • Alexa gets Apple Music
                                                                                                                • Price cuts on the HomePod
                                                                                                                  • Facebook’s relationship with younger users is complicated
                                                                                                                    • Facebook loses its cool
                                                                                                                      • Messenger Kids aims to win younger kids but worries mental health experts
                                                                                                                        • “Be Best” anti-cyberbullying campaign sends mixed messages
                                                                                                                          • Figure 15: Excerpt from Talking With Kids About Being Online brochure, May 2018
                                                                                                                      • What’s Next

                                                                                                                        • Device-free dinners?
                                                                                                                            • Figure 16: #DeviceFreeDinner – Kid Hat, November 2018
                                                                                                                          • Teaching kids digital citizenship
                                                                                                                            • Figure 17: Google’s Interland Digital Citizenship Game
                                                                                                                          • Brands will unite to help Alexa run your smart home
                                                                                                                            • Smart home technology could make life easier for parents
                                                                                                                                • Figure 18: Screenshots of Ovie Smarterware app
                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                              • Parents have mixed feelings about technology
                                                                                                                                • Online predators and cyberbullying are top tech concerns among parents
                                                                                                                                  • Half of families allow device use at dinner
                                                                                                                                    • Younger kids are subject to more regulation than older kids are
                                                                                                                                      • Parents are divided in their stance on social media use
                                                                                                                                      • How Parents Feel about Technology

                                                                                                                                        • Technology complicates family life more than it enhances it
                                                                                                                                          • Parents want unplugged family time
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 19: Percentage of parents interested in disconnecting, by key demographics, November 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Case study: Subaru knows families
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 20: 2019 Subaru Ascent | Subaru Commercial | A Big Day Out (Extended), September 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: 2019 Subaru Ascent | Subaru Commercial | Dream Big (Extended), September 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Unplugged time is about concentration
                                                                                                                                            • Parents are ambivalent toward tech as a parenting tool
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Percentage of parents who agree with statements about the upside of technology, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Devices are less threatening than social media
                                                                                                                                              • One quarter of parents want kids to wait until adulthood for social media access
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 23: Percentage of parents who agree kids should not have personal devices/social media accounts, by key demographics, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Which Online Threats Worry Parents

                                                                                                                                              • Actions of others concern parents most
                                                                                                                                                • Stranger danger is parents’ top fear
                                                                                                                                                  • Parents worry their kids will be bullied, not do the bullying
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Online dangers – Percentage of parents who selected each situation, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • Inappropriate content is also a concern
                                                                                                                                                    • Parents of older kids are less worried
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Selected online worries, by age of child(ren), November 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • How Parents Regulate Kids’ Technology Use

                                                                                                                                                    • Tech rules vary from one household to the next
                                                                                                                                                      • Monitoring in common spaces
                                                                                                                                                        • Monitoring digitally
                                                                                                                                                          • Weekday limits
                                                                                                                                                            • Half of all families allow devices at the dinner table
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 26: Frequency of family dinners at home, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                            • Devices at dinner: parent profile
                                                                                                                                                              • Demographic differences
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 27: Demographic profile table, by households with and without devices at dinner, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                • Behavioral differences
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Parents’ tech rules, by households with and without devices at dinner, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                • Attitudinal differences
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Percentage of parents who agree with statement, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                • Cellular data use is an issue for one third of families
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Parents’ tech rules, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                • Most tech-related rules depend on age of child
                                                                                                                                                                  • Parents of younger kids have more control over kids’ tech use
                                                                                                                                                                    • Majority of families have rules for in-app purchases
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Parents’ tech rules, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Pro-tech parents agree about devices, but align less on social media use
                                                                                                                                                                      • Age 12 is a common threshold for device ownership
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 32: Appropriate age for a child to have his/her own tech devices, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Parents are fairly divided on the best age for social media
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Appropriate age for a child to have own social media accounts, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Parents’ concerns about appropriateness do not necessarily translate to restrictions
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Device ownership and social media use among kids aged 12-17, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Only half of kids on social media are monitored by parents
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Social media use and monitoring among parents with kids aged 12-17, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Demographic Differences

                                                                                                                                                                      • Moms vs dads
                                                                                                                                                                        • Dads have a more positive view of technology
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Positivity toward technology, by gender of parent, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • Moms are more likely to limit kids’ screen time
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Parents’ tech rules, by households with and without devices at dinner, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • Moms are more concerned about predators and cyberbullying
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Top online threats, by moms and dads, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • Parents’ generation
                                                                                                                                                                          • Millennials view technology more positively than older parents do
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Attitudes toward smart tech, by parental generation, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Older parents are less confident in their tech skills
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Degree of tech savvy, by parental generation, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Parents’ race and ethnicity
                                                                                                                                                                            • Black parents’ attitudes toward tech
                                                                                                                                                                              • Hispanic parents’ attitudes toward tech
                                                                                                                                                                                • Asian parents worry about long-term detriment
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Family tech rules and controls, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 42: Online threats, by race and ethnicity, November 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Definitions
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Technology terminology
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Generation definitions
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 43: Households, by presence of own children, 2008-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 44: Median household income, by type of household, 2016
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Adult social media users – Parents and nonparents, 2012-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 46: Teens’ social media use and engagement, 2012-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 47: Percentage of US adults who use the internet, by income, 2000-18

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