Current events

Economic inequality affects children's use of mobile devices

  Economic inequality affects children's use of mobile devices

Photo: Unsplash/McKaela Lee

A new study came to this conclusion after analysing a sample of 792 primary school boys and girls between the ages of five and nine from three Spanish cities

For years now, mobile devices of all shapes and sizes have become everyday items in households across Spain. In that same time, numerous studies have looked into what parents are doing to supervise their children's use of smart devices. Nevertheless, there continues to be a lack of scientific evidence on how parents' professional status and level of education affect children's digital media consumption.

A new study carried out by Mnika Jimnez and Pilar Medina, researchers at Pompeu Fabra University's Faculty of Communication, and Mireia Montaa, researcher at the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences, sought to fill this void by analysing how families' socio-educational level influences their children's use of smart mobile devices. The paper was featured in Comunicar, in an advanced online issue published on 15 April. The results were obtained as part of the MediaCorp project entitled "Representaci meditica de la imatge corporal no saludable. Desenvolupament d'una eina de prevenci en nens i nenes de 5 a 8 anys: El meu cos m'agrada" (Media representation of unhealthy body images. Development of a prevention tool for boys and girls aged 5 to 8: I like my body), which is financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness' research and development fund.

Mnika Jimnez, co-author of the paper alongside Pilar Medina, a principal investigator at MediaCorp, said: "This study has enabled us to collect data on the role parents play in building their children's body image and supervising their media consumption."

The research featured in Comunicar hones in on the influence of parents' professional status and level of education on the use of mobile devices, applying a quantitative methodology to a sample of 792 primary school children between the ages of five and nine from three Spanish cities. Breaking down the figures, there were a total of 363 boys and 429 girls; 196 were schoolchildren from Barcelona, 320 from Madrid and 276 from Seville. The study covers the use of television, mobile phones, tablets, computers and video game consoles.

The results indicate that the lower a mother's professional status and level of education are, the higher her children's consumption of content through mobile devices will be. Pilar Medina said: "Although we don't want to blame low-income women for this, the fact of the matter is that economic inequality affects children's use of mobile devices. "The study underlines the importance of viewing parents' professional status and level of education as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of children's use of smart devices and to design family strategies that foster critical thinking and digital media education.


Reference paper:

Mnika Jimnez-Morales, Mireia Montaa & Pilar Medina-Bravo (2020). "Uso infantil de dispositivos mviles: Influencia del nivel socioeducativo materno", Comunicar, advanced online issue, 15 April, DOI: https: / /


About UOC R&I

The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) contribute to solving the challenges facing the global societies of the 21st century by studying ICTs' interactions with human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 48 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals and open knowledge provide strategic pillars on which the UOC's teaching, research and innovation are built. For more information, visit


Photograph of Mireia Montaa Blasco

Mireia Montaa Blasco

Expert in: Traditional and digital advertising; media; advertising media planning; the Internet and social networks; strategy; segmentation by target audience; consumer behaviour; young adults as advertising targets.

Knowledge area: Traditional and digital communication, advertising and media.

View file