Perceived differences in knowledge about interactive technology between young adults and their parents


This study was designed to investigate generational differences in knowledge about interactive technology (i.e., cell phones, social networking, email, video chat) between parents and their young adult children. Parents (n = 555) and young adults (n = 604) residing in the United States provided information about their knowledge in the use of interactive technology. Young adult children also reported their perceptions of their parents’ technological knowledge for the various technologies. Comparisons of young adult self-reported technological knowledge and their parents’ own reports of technological knowledge revealed that young adults were perceived to be much more knowledgeable than their parents (by both the young adults and their parents) regardless of the technology medium. The largest differences between parents and their young adult children were associated with newer interactive technologies, with the largest gap between parent and young adult knowledge in the area of social networking. Perceived differences between parents and their young adult children were smaller among the technologies that have been in use longer (such as such as e-mail), and larger among the newer modes of interactive technology (e.g., video chat).

Bibliographic citation

Vaterlaus, J. M., Jones, R. M., & Tulane, S. (2015). Perceived differences in knowledge about interactive technology between young adults and their parents. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(4), Article 3. doi:


Digital generation gap; social networking; video chat; cell phones; email; ecological theory; parents

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