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The influence of social and cultural factors on mothers’ domestication of household ICTs – Experiences of Chinese and Korean women

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Abstract

ICTs such as television, the Internet and mobile phones are assuming a growing presence within the modern homestead and are having an indelible impact on family dynamics and parenting. While gender studies have sought to understand ICT domestication from the perspective of mothers, the influence of social and cultural factors on the adoption and appropriation of ICTs has not been as widely studied. So as to better explicate the influence of socio-cultural factors on mothers’ domestication of ICTs, this article studies the experiences of mothers in China and South Korea and compares its findings against studies of ICT domestication by mothers in other countries. Based on ethnographic interviews with mothers in media-rich families in Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul, the article explores how mothers incorporate ICTs into their household routines and how they utilise ICTs as they fulfil their maternal duties of managing the home, coordinating schedules, fostering family interaction and supervising their children. It also pays particular attention to how they oversee their children’s ICT use. The article finds that cultural conceptions of motherhood and maternal responsibility, the premium placed on academic achievement by children, as well as the two societies’ highly positive outlook on technology, greatly influence how Chinese and Korean mothers use and supervise their children’s use of ICTs. It also finds that the mothers are creative in deploying ICTs in coordinating schedules with, disciplining and monitoring their children, but also find the perpetual mothering which is enabled by always-on ICT-mediated connections to be burdensome and stressful.
... Helsper, 2010;Schwanen et al., 2014). Mothers, often at the intersection with ethnicity, tend to put their children's needs before their own (Goedhart et al., 2019;Lim & Soon, 2010). The inscription of masculinity in technology affected women's self-confidence to the extent that they felt less able to learn more about technologies, but such "masculine" framing of ICTs also formed a barrier for men who are not yet digitally connected. ...
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... Hence, culture can be a particularly strong predictor of parenting practices (Bornstein, 2012). Cultural considerations can influence the goals and motivations of parents in selecting activities for their children (Trommsdorff & Kornadt, 2003), including use of screen technologies (Lim & Soon, 2010). Hence, we speculate that cultural differences with respect to parenting and parenting goals may in part underlie the ethnic differences in children's screen time found in our sample. ...
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... A sense of ambivalence is noted in that though women may appreciate the benefits of mobile technology such as enabling them to be available for their families, the extended heightened sense of responsibility is reported as being potentially burdensome [22]. These sentiments are also corroborated by Lim and Soon [23] where mothers found the constant connectivity binding them to home responsibilities unnerving. ...
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