Family characteristics and intergenerational conflicts over the Internet

Gustavo S. Mesch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The rapid expansion of computer use and Internet connection has the potential to change patterns of family interaction, with conflicts arising over adolescents' autonomy, parental authority and control of the computer. This study applied a conceptual framework derived from family development and human ecology theory to investigate family characteristics related to the likelihood of such conflicts. A secondary analysis was conducted of a special survey of 754 children aged 12 to 17 who used the Internet, and of their parents, performed by Pew Internet and the American Life project. Adolescent-parent conflicts over Internet use proved strongly related to the perception that the adolescent was a computer expert. Families in which adolescents were considered experts in new technologies were more likely to experience conflicts. Parents' attempt to reduce adolescent autonomy by regulating the time of Internet use increased the likelihood of family arguments over the Internet. Intergenerational conflicts over the Internet were higher in families in which parents expressed concern over the potentially negative consequences of Internet use. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-495
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • Family
  • Internet
  • Internet effects
  • Technology adoption
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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