In the last decade, new (media) technologies had a profound impact on the way people consume media nowadays. The significant increase in ownership of mobile devices in the Netherlands illustrates how society embraced new (media) technologies. As a result, mobile devices became more and more interwoven with the routines within households, especially the smartphone gained a lot of ground among adolescents. One of the practices that resulted from the emergence of new (media) technologies is the practice of multi-screening. Consequently, multi-screening practices changed the configurations, practices and values of households throughout the years. This study focuses on the perceptions and experiences of adolescents on multi-screening practices in the home environment and how it effects familial interactions. For this aim, the study also includes the viewpoints of their parents, because in this way the perspective of the adolescents can be verified and complemented. To study multi-screening practices as an everyday action and habit, the non-media centric approach is used for this research. The qualitative research method of conducting in-depth interviews was considered the most appropriate and effective to address the research questions as it provided an insight into participants’ perception and experiences. The research data is drawn from 12 with six Dutch adolescents and one parent of each of them. The study reveals that multi-screening practices are triggered by the constant presence of mobile devices and the urge to immediately respond to incoming notifications triggers them the most often. This urge is mainly driven by the fear of missing out, boredom or a lack of engagement with the initial screened media activity. The multi-screening practices are less diverse than previous studies imply, as the television still plays the most prominent role in the current multi-screening practices of adolescents. Because of the combination of the social function of joint television viewing and constant presence of mobile devices, joint television viewing can be considered as the most common occasion in which multi-screening practices affect familial sociability. Logically, the other common multi-screening scenarios, like the laptop – smartphone and the PlayStation – smartphone, are less likely to affect direct familial sociability. In general, the participants are aware of that the fact that the practice of multi-screening tend to interfere with this valuable shared leisure activity within households. The presence of other screened devices causes distraction, impacts direct sociability and compromises the quality of shared leisure activities, such as joint television viewing. However, most adolescents do not feel bothered by the multi-screening practices of others, and they also do not seem to be conscious about the effects of their multi-screening behaviour on their environment. In contrast, the majority of the parents get easily annoyed by people who multi-screen in their presence. This irritation originates from the emotional distance that arises when people multi-screen in the presence of others, the disinterest of multi-screeners in their surroundings, and the direct nuisance multi-screening causes, like flashing lights and vibrations coming from mobile devices. This irritation being caused undermines the direct social interactions, so familial sociability, within households.

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Keywords media, culture, society, multi-screening practices, experiences and perceptions, Dutch adolescents, familial sociability, non-media centric approach
Thesis Advisor A. Paz Alencar
Persistent URL
Series Media, Culture & Society
C. van der Giesen. (2018, July 11). “Interactions between multi-screening practices and familial sociability within the home environment” The perspective of Dutch households. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from