Technology and International Student Parenting: Implications for Research and Design of Digital Childcare Technologies

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Virginia Tech


Digital technologies such as televisions, touch screen tablets, smartphones, and smart speakers are now frequently encountered and used by young children even before the age of one. These devices facilitate modern parents in their care-giving of young children due to their prevalence in the home environment. The use of these devices is especially common by international student mothers of young children who subscribe to a multiplicity of roles such as being a productive student, efficient mother, and dutiful partner in a new country. This dissertation summarizes four studies exploring the role of technology in international student mothers' life as a parent of young children, and the implications of design and research of technologies for parents based on the transferable learning from these studies. The first and second studies employ auto ethnographic and collaborative approach to involve these mothers as equal stakeholders and collaborators to understand their context of use of technology. The third and fourth studies explore the various uses of technology by caregivers and young children, to obtain certain gratifications. By engaging primary caregivers in in-depth efforts of understanding of their motivations and perceptions about early childhood media exposure, I set forth the praxis between the professional recommendations and their actual lived experiences with technology and young children. Building on these insights, I present a conceptual framework for research which considers the dyadic use of technology due to the close relationship between primary caregivers and young children. Based on the various roles of technology in international student mothers' parenting, I present implications for designing technologies which can assist parents in their care giving duties.



nternational students, young children, participatory research, asset-based, uses and gratifications, technology, digital childcare