FARNBOROUGH, England--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Parents spend on average over 5.5 hours per week in the car with their children, and a quarter of parents spend 10 hours or more in the car with their kids, according to new research by Alphabet (GB) Limited, a global provider of Business Mobility.
Car journeys provide a unique space for conversation, away from the distractions of home or school. Parents are using this ‘drivetime dialogue’ to discuss issues affecting their children, from the serious to the strange. Alphabet’s research shows the dialogue focuses on three core issues:
- Social - School and social life are the most frequent topics of conversation. Parents cover issues around schoolwork and performance and children’s social well-being, with questions about how to handle friendships and bullying
- Self-esteem - Physical well-being and body image were also a huge topic of conversation for parents and kids. Subjects like exercise, diet and self-confidence were most common, with issues around body image such as appearance, weight, make-up and clothing tackled by nearly a third of all parents
- Emotional - A quarter of parents have addressed online health concerns, talking with kids about the time they spend on phones, tablets and computers and the content they access there, as well as mental health issues around anxiety, stress and depression
Talking about these issues can result in some tricky questions from children too. The ones parents found toughest were ‘Where do babies come from?’ (25%) and a range of sex education questions (17%), to the specific ‘Why haven’t I got a tail?’ and ‘Are trees waterproof?’ But no matter the subject, parents took them on:
- 59% of parents aimed to tackle the question there and then, no matter what the topic
- 25% of parents thought the best option was to acknowledge the question but find a better time to talk about it later
- A few questions proved tricky enough for a few parents (8%) to agree to talk later, but secretly hope the question was forgotten about altogether
Dr Richard Woolfson, child psychologist, said of the research: “Family life rarely allows time for open and uninterrupted dialogue between parents and children. So time in the car can be a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the communication channels between parent and child, to build trust and strengthen the emotional bond. But, as the survey shows, children can ask about anything at all, and answering those questions can be difficult.”
When faced with a particularly tricky question, Dr Woolfson recommends giving an immediate, age appropriate answer if you can. If you need a bit more time, acknowledge the question and agree to talk about it later the same day.
Simon Carr, Chief Commercial Officer for Alphabet (GB) Limited, comments: “Our ‘What Moves Britain’ report has already shown how important the car remains to work life in the UK. The company car is more than just a ‘perk’ or status symbol, for many Brits it is essential to our jobs. This latest research shows how essential these cars and the journeys we make in them can be to family life too. We know how important safety aspects are to parents and families when choosing their next car but how many of us consider the quality of the time we have together in that vehicle? Parents spend lots of time with kids in the car on school runs, driving them on the weekends and entertaining them over half term. With fewer distractions than home, it’s a great place to get kids talking about questions they have or issues affecting them.”
Research was conducted by Walnut Unlimited, using a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and over.