The scene has been repeating itself regularly for a year or two. Marjorie and Pascal plan to watch a family movie with their children, ages 12 and 14. But while they search for a program that might appeal to everyone, the two teens “Take the opportunity to slip into their room with their cell phone, says Marjorie, half overwhelmed, half amused. Finally, we also find ourselves on our smartphones or in front of a series. “
This couple of Parisian executives is nostalgic for the film “Sunday evening” with family : “At home, we watched popular comedies but never westerns, which my parents found violent and silly ”, remembers Pascal.At Marjorie too, we favored French films, making sure not to show scenes “Too daring”. Today, both still manage to bring the family together around a program. Corn “Much less oftenthan before ”, regrets Marjorie.
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Mothers are more attached to these moments of sharing, observes Swiss sociologist Claire Balleys. However, they come up against resistance from teenagers and fathers who more often use dual screens. “In my surveys, they are more likely to watch a film with the family, while having their phone in their hand on which they will answer messages or consult applications”, she notes.
The “jungle” of the audiovisual offer
Teens often shun these family moments because they prefer programs their age. “The characteristic of adolescence is to identify with the culture of peers and above all not to have the same tastes as the parents”, underlines Claire Balleys. If the proliferation of screens can promote these behaviors, it is not enough to explain it. “In the 1960s, young people already locked themselves in their rooms with their transistor”, recalls Marie-France Chambat-Houillon, media specialist.
→ TESTIMONIALS. These screens that punctuate the life of families
Since then, with the advent of new technologies, family life has changed a lot. Today, everyone can watch a different program on their personal screen in the home. “In the past, parents and children could also have different activities, but with the arrival of smartphones and tablets, we observe a form of individualization of practices, confirms Claire Balleys. From the age of 10, the vast majority of children already have a cell phone. “
Not only is the number of screens exploding, but also the offer of programs. Marjorie admits that she feels completely lost in the “Jungle” audiovisual offer, “Between terrestrial channels, replay, Netflix …” The phenomenon is not new, but it has become even more pronounced with the emergence of video on demand platforms. “Since the 1980s, we have seen a proliferation of broadcasting channels with increasingly distinct and targeted programming, notes Marie-France Chambat-Houillon. Kids can watch Disney + and parents can watch Netflix. On this platform, consumption is even more personalized since these are algorithms that recommend content based on the user’s profile. “
Series also contribute, in their own way, to segmenting audiences. If couples gladly watch these fictions together, this kind of content is more rarely aimed at the whole family, according to Clément Combes, media sociologist and co-author of a survey on the subject (1). “The series is a less collective program than the film. You watch it alone to have a good time or with your partner, but more rarely with children and even less with friends, especially since it is a long program ”, he analyzes.
Many fathers play video games with their children
This individualization of practices does not however lead to a lack of communication in the family, insists Claire Balleys. “There is a form of idealization of the past, with the Epinal image of parents and children gathered around television. But it was not a reality for all families. Some did not share activities because parents were too busy or not very interested in children’s activities. Today, continues the sociologist, many fathers play video games with their children and siblings watch videos or series together. Screens transform family practices to a greater or lesser extent depending on social backgrounds, but do not desocialize. “
Chez Aude, mother of four boys aged 4 months to 11 years old,children gladly share the console and tablet. “They take turns playing while the others are watching, says this librarian. When their father also gets started, the console is transferred to the big screen in the living room and the game becomes an interactive cartoon. We also watch real cartoons and movies, Friday or Saturday night on the computer, all together. “
Families are now gathered around the different screens, depending on the situation or the content. But the television remains “Predominant in many homes”, notes Clément Combes. “This is still the case in all social categories and all ages combined. “ Thus the small screen continues to unite around certain more family-oriented programs or large live sports broadcasts, also notes Marie-France Chambat-Houillon.
The risk of the proliferation of screens would therefore not be isolation but “The entry of the outside world into homes, through professional messages or those of friends, concludes Claire Balleys. There is a lot of interference, including from the family when some of its members are outside. However, this permeability can complicate the family bond and living together. “
French households have 5.5 screens on average, according to the Observatory of audiovisual equipment in households. Some families with children may own up to 9 or 10, according to an Ipsos – Kids & Screens study.
Television still leads the way with 91.7% of households equipped at the end of 2020, in front of the computer (85.8%), the smartphone (77.4% of those aged 11 and over) and the tablet (47.6% of households), according to the Observatory of audiovisual equipment of homes.
In 2017, 13-19 year olds spent, on average, 15:11 a week on the Internet, 1 h 41 more than in 2015. 7-12 year olds 6:10 and 1-6 year olds 4:37, according to the Ipsos Junior Connect ‘2018 survey.