Parents’ Views on Mobile Phone Use: A Qualitative Interview Study on Parents with Children from 0-5 Years of Age in Norway


  • Monika Abels UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • Anders Augustson UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • Peder Tande Klepaker UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway


preschoolers, mobile media, parent-child interaction, ethnotheories, child-focused interaction, Scandinavia


Mobile phones have become almost ubiquitous, including the lives of parents of young children. This paper examined the question of how parents with young children living in Norway perceive their phone usage. Twelve parents were interviewed individually about situations and for what purposes they used their phones, whether they had discussed mobile media with others and how they felt about it. Interviews were analyzed thematically. Parents reported using their phones mainly for information seeking and communication and networking in their role as parents. Mobile phones were evaluated as positive or helpful to parents. However, situations that were deemed to require parents’ focused attention, such as playing or book-reading were considered inappropriate for using mobile phones, as were mealtimes. Situations in which children were occupied with playing or watching TV were considered acceptable for using mobile phones. Visits to the playground seemed controversial and situational. Being present emerged as a major theme of good parenting and even though brief and important usages of the phone were considered somewhat acceptable while with children, many parents reported feeling guilty about their usage. Several usage reduction strategies were described such as muting the phone or certain notifications or putting the phone away. Despite national guidelines recommending the topic, the majority had not received information about parental screen use from health care personnel. In contrast, many had discussed the topic with friends and family members, sometimes controversially. The results are briefly discussed in light of the previous research and the societal conditions in Norway.