Linking parental mediation practices to adolescents’ problematic online screen use: A systematic literature review

Philip Nielsen, Nicolas Favez, Howard Liddle, Henk Rigter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background and aims: To remedy problematic Internet use (PIU) and problematic online gaming (POG) in adolescents, much is expected from efforts by parents to help youths to contain their screen use. Such parental mediation can include (a) refraining from acting, (b) co-viewing or co-gaming with the teen, (c) active mediation, and (d) restrictive mediation. We evaluated if parental mediation practices are linked to PIU and POG in adolescents. Methods: For a systematic literature review, we searched for publications presenting survey data and relating parental mediation practices to levels of PIU and/or POG in adolescents. The review’s selection criteria were met by 18 PIU and 9 POG publications, reporting on 81.002 and 12.915 adolescents, respectively. We extracted data on gaming problems, mediation interventions, study design features, and sample characteristics. Results: No type of parental mediation was consistently associated with lower or elevated problematic screen use rates in the adolescents. Refraining from parental mediation tended to aggravate screen use problems, whereas active mediation (talking to the teen) may mitigate such problems in PIU, but less clearly in POG. The link of restrictive mediation with problematic screen use varied from positive to negative, possibly depending on type of restriction. In both PIU and POG, family cohesion was related to lower rates of the problem behavior concerned and family conflict to higher rates. Discussion and conclusions: Parental mediation practices may affect problematic screen use rates for better or worse. However, research of higher quality, including observations of parent-teen interactions, is needed to confirm the trends noted and advance the critical issue of the possible association between PIU, POG, and family interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-663
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Adolescents
  • Family cohesion
  • Parental mediation
  • Problematic Internet use
  • Problematic online gaming
  • Systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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