Characteristics of mobile device use among mothers of young infants – UROP Symposium

Characteristics of mobile device use among mothers of young infants

Mohammed Nasser

Research Mentor(s): Tiffany Munzer
Program: CCSFP
Authors: Mohammed Nasser, Kristen Paternoster, Tiffany Munzer MD


Introduction/Objective: Despite the prevalence of mobile devices with 98% of individuals owning a mobile device, more needs to be known about how specific populations are using their mobile devices. Prior work has characterized descriptively how children, adolescents, and adult users are utilizing their mobile devices; however, no studies have objectively characterized how mothers are using their mobile devices. Therefore, we aim to objectively characterize how mothers are using their mobile devices on various types of apps.

Methods: We conducted a pilot study inviting 13 maternal-infant dyads to participate in a home visit at 3 months of age. This study was approved by the University of Michigan IRB and parents consented to our study prior to the study visit. Maternal mobile device use was collected by using the iPhone Screen Time app or by gathering data from the Android Chronicle App, both of which track mobile device use objectively from mothers. We coded the app categories used by parents by applying a previously established coding scheme and created four different categories of mobile device apps: social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), productivity (calendar, email, browser, shopping), people (e.g.: messages, phone, Zoom), and entertainment (YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Disney+). We descriptively characterized our sample’s mobile device use patterns using Excel.

Results: A total of 13 participants had full demographic data. Two participants were missing app data due to non-response to obtaining Screenshots of their mobile device use. Mothers spent an average of about 300 minutes/day on their mobile devices, with the largest share of time spent on social media which averaged about 127 minutes/day (SD= 77). This time was followed by time spent on productivity apps which was 90 minutes/day (SD=54), people apps which was 47 minutes/day (SD=24), and entertainment apps which was 37 minutes/day (SD=44). On average, mothers received an average of 82 notifications per day and picked up their phones 84 times per day.

Conclusion: Mothers are spending a substantial portion of their day on mobile devices when their infants are about three months old, using mobile devices primarily for social reasons (on social media) and to get things done for their daily living (using productivity apps). Future work should examine how social media might specifically impact mothers’ anxiety and depression symptoms, infant development, and mother-infant interactions.

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