Adolescents, their Parents, and Information and Communication Technologies: Exploring Adolescents’ Perceptions on How these Technologies Present in Parent-Adolescent Relationships

  • Willem Odendaal
  • Charles Malcolm
  • Shazly Savahl
  • Roseline September


The differences between parents and adolescents in relation to information and communication technologies (ICT) are well documented, yet little is known about how adolescents experience these differences. The study reported in this paper therefore aimed to elucidate adolescents’ views on these differences, and in the process to explore the possible impact on parent-adolescent relationships. The participants comprised 23 Grade 10 learners, conveniently selected from three high schools in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. The learners participated in focus group discussions and reported on the following: their experiences and perceptions regarding their parents’ level of techno-literacy; their attitude towards, and use of, ICT in comparison with that of their parents; and parental regulations imposed on their use of these technologies. Thematic content analysis was applied to delineate themes emerging from the texts. Although the study confirmed that differences between parents and adolescents exist in relation to ICT, it calls into question other research that too readily portrays this aspect as being negatively experienced by the adolescent, and a threat to healthy parent-adolescent relationships. It was also evident that it is not possible to be conclusive about the impact that ICT may have on parent-adolescent relationships, without information on how parents and adolescents relate above and beyond these technologies. The importance of ICT in adolescents’ lives emphasises the need to unravel the impact it may have on their well-being.

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, Volume 6, Edition 1 May 2006

Author Biographies

Willem Odendaal
Medical Research Council
Charles Malcolm
Head of the Psychology Department, University of the Western Cape
Roseline September
Senior Lecturer, University of the Western Cape

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1445-7377
print ISSN: 2079-7222