Military Parenting in the Digital Age: Existing Practices, New Possibilities

  • Kelly A. BlaskoEmail author
  • Pamela R. Murphy
Part of the Risk and Resilience in Military and Veteran Families book series (RRMV)


In this digital age, the use of technology for all aspects of daily life is prevalent among parents and their children. The availability of mobile devices, ubiquitous Internet access, and social networking has the potential for enhancing parenting practices in general. Military parents share many of the challenges facing their civilian counterparts but also live within the constraints of being part of the US military system. The Department of Defense is increasingly recognizing that family readiness is critical to providing service members with a healthy support system as they focus on their mission at hand. The use of the Internet, mobile technology, and social networking by military families can improve their daily living in such a way that contributes to family readiness. On the other hand, the ease of sharing information via the Internet and mobile phones can easily compromise operations security and jeopardize the safety of their family member and others throughout the deployment cycle. The purpose of this chapter is to present how military parents can use technology to effectively parent as they face the myriad of challenges specific to separations, reintegration, and relocations. Research is presented on the use of technology by parents in general and is extended to discuss how it might help or hinder military parenting in four foundational aspects of parenting: information seeking, communication, social support, and well-being. The chapter concludes by offering ideas about the future of technology, how it might evolve in terms of impacting military family life and potential new directions for research.


Military parents Parenting Technology Internet Mobile applications Deployment Family readiness 


  1. Allen, K., & Rainie, L. (2002). Parents online. Pew Research Internet Project. Retrieved from
  2. Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2014a). Digital life in 2025. Pew Research Internet Project. Retrieved from
  3. Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2014b). The Internet of things will thrive by 2025: An in-depth look at expert responses. Pew Research Internet Project. Retrieved from
  4. Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. A. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26(2–4), 109–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beardslee, W. R., Bemporad, J., Keller, M. B., & Klerman, G. L. (1983). Children of parents with major depressive disorder: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 1254–1268.Google Scholar
  6. Bernhardt, J. M., & Felter, E. M. (2004). Online pediatric information seeking among mothers of young children: results from a qualitative study using focus groups. Journal of medical Internet research, 6(1), e7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boniel-Nissim, M., & Barak, A. (2013). The therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social–emotional difficulties. Psychological Services, 10(3), 333–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouche, G., & Migeot, V. (2008). Parental use of the Internet to seek health information and primary care utilisation for their child: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 8(1), 300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brady, E., & Guerin, S. (2010). “Not the romantic, all happy, coochy coo experience”: A qualitative analysis of interactions on an Irish parenting web site. Family Relations, 59(1), 14–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burke, M., Kraut, R., & Marlow, C. (2011, May). Social capital on Facebook: Differentiating uses and users. Proceedings from the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Press. Google Scholar
  11. Burrell, L. M., Adams, G. A., Durand, D. B., & Castro, C. A. (2006). The impact of military lifestyle demands on well-being, army, and family outcomes. Armed Forces & Society, 33(1), 43–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bush, N. E., Fullerton, N., Crumpton, R., Metzger-Abamukong, M., & Fantelli, E. (2012). Soldiers’ personal technologies on deployment and at home. Telemedicine and e-Health, 18(4), 253–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chandra, A., Burns, R. M., Tanielian, T., Jaycox, L. H., & Scott, M. M. (2008). Understanding the impact of deployment on children and families: Findings from a pilot study of Operation Purple Camp participants. Retrieved from
  14. Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L., Tanielian, T., Burns, R., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2010). Children on the homefront: The experience of children from military families. Pediatrics, 125, 16–25.Google Scholar
  15. Chiong, C., & Shuler, C. (2010). Learning: Is there an app for that? Investigations of young children’s usage and learning with mobile devices and apps. New York, NY: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.Google Scholar
  16. Clarke, G., Reid, D. E., O’Connor, E., DeBar, L. L., Kelleher, C., Lynch, F., & Nunley, S. (2002). Overcoming depression on the Internet (ODIN): A randomized controlled trial of an Internet depression skills intervention program. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 4(3), E14.Google Scholar
  17. Defense Manpower Data Center. (2012). Retrieved from
  18. Department of Defense. (2012). Military Family Readiness (DoDI Number 1342.22). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  19. Department of Defense. (2013). Annual report to the Congressional Defense Committees on plans for the Department of Defense for the support of military family readiness. Retrieved from
  20. Drentea, P., & Moren‐Cross, J. L. (2005). Social capital and social support on the web: The case of an internet mother site. Sociology of Health & Illness, 27(7), 920–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dworkin, J., Connell, J., & Doty, J. (2013). A literature review of parents’ online behavior. Cyberpsychology, 7(2), 2.Google Scholar
  22. Easterbrooks, M. A., Ginsburg, K., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Resilience among military youth. The Future of Children, 23(2), 99–120. Retrieved from Scholar
  23. Edgerton, J. (2014). New technology lets parents set controls for teen drivers. CBS News. Retrieved from
  24. Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends”: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.Google Scholar
  25. Erera, P. I., & Baum, N. (2009). Chat-room voices of divorced non-residential fathers. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 36, 63.Google Scholar
  26. Ferber, S. (2013). How the internet of things changes everything. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  27. Finkel, L. B., Kelley, M. L., & Ashby, J. (2003). Geographic mobility, family, and maternal variables as related to the psychosocial adjustment of military children. Military Medicine, 168, 1019–1024.Google Scholar
  28. Fitzpatrick, M. A. (1988). Between husbands and wives. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Flake, E., Davis, B., Johnson, P., & Middleton, L. (2009). The psychosocial effects of deployment on military children. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 30, 271–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fletcher, R., & St. George, J. (2011). Heading into fatherhood—nervously: Support for fathering from online dads. Qualitative Health Research, 21(8), 1101–1114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fromm, J. (2014a). Useful is the new cool: How Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hus and Burberry are using technology to innovate. The Business Journals. Retrieved from
  32. Fromm, J. (2014b). Five millennial trends that will pave the way for marketers in 2015. Forbes. Retrieved from
  33. Gewirtz, A. H., Erbes, C. R., Polusny, M. A., Forgatch, M. S., & DeGarmo, D. S. (2011). Helping military families through the deployment process: Strategies to support parenting. Professional Psychology, 42(1), 56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gottman, J. M., Gottman, J. S., & Atkins, C. L. (2011). The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program: family skills component. American Psychologist, 66(1), 52–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Graham-Ashley, H. (2011, August 4). Social media revolution: Keeping Fort Hood soldiers, families informed. Sentinel News Editor. Retrieved from
  36. Hall, W., & Irvine, V. (2009). E‐communication among mothers of infants and toddlers in a community‐based cohort: A content analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(1), 175–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoffman, M. (2015). Military spouses threatened by ISIS affiliate on Twitter, Facebook. Retrieved from
  38. Houston, J. B., Pfefferbaum, B., Sherman, M. D., Melson, A. G., Jeon-Slaughter, H., Brand, M. W., & Jarman, Y. (2009). Children of deployed National Guard troops: Perceptions of parental deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Psychiatric Annals, 39(8), 805–811.Google Scholar
  39. Houston, J. B., Pfefferbaum, B., Sherman, M. D., Melson, A. G., & Brand, M. W. (2013). Family communication across the military deployment experience: Child and spouse report of communication frequency and quality and associated emotions, behaviors, and reactions. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 18(2), 103–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Internet Live Stats. (2014, December 4). Retrieved from
  41. Joiner, R., Gavin, J., Brosnan, M., Cromby, J., Gregory, H., Guiller, J., … Moon, A. (2013). Comparing first and second generation Digital Natives’ Internet use, Internet anxiety, and Internet identification. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(7), 549–552.Google Scholar
  42. Jones, S., & Fox, S. (2009). Generations online in 2009. Pew Research Internet Project Retrieved from
  43. Joseph, A. L., & Afifi, T. D. (2010). Military wives’ stressful disclosures to their deployed husbands: The role of protective buffering. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 38, 412–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Karney, B. R., & Crown, J. S. (2007). Families under stress: an assessment of data, theory, and research on marriage and divorce in the military (Vol. 599). Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.Google Scholar
  45. Kennedy, T. L., Smith, A., Wells, A. T., & Wellman, B. (2008). Networked families. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 1–44. Retrieved from
  46. Khalaf, S. (2014). Health and fitness apps finally take off, fueled by fitness fanatics. Flurry from Yahoo. Retrieved from
  47. Lee, S. J. (2009). Online communication and adolescent social ties: Who benefits more from Internet use? Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 14(3), 509–531.Google Scholar
  48. Lester, P., Mogil, C., Saltzman, W., Woodward, K., Nash, W., Leskin, G., … Beardslee, W. (2011). Families overcoming under stress: Implementing family-centered prevention for military families facing wartime deployments and combat operational stress. Military medicine, 176(1), 19–25.Google Scholar
  49. Lester, P., Peterson, K., Reeves, J., Knauss, L., Glover, D., Mogil, C., … Beardslee, W. (2010). The long war and parental combat deployment: Effects on military children and at-home spouses. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(4), 310–320.Google Scholar
  50. Lester, P., Stein, J. A., Saltzman, W., Woodward, K., MacDermid, S. W., Milburn, N., … Beardslee, W. (2013). Psychological health of military children: Longitudinal evaluation of a family-centered prevention program to enhance family resilience. Military Medicine, 178(8), 838–845. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00502 Google Scholar
  51. Liu, X., & LaRose, R. (2008). Does using the Internet make people more satisfied with their lives? The effects of the Internet on college students’ school life satisfaction. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(3), 310–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Luxton, D. D., McCann, R. A., Bush, N. E., Mishkind, M. C., & Reger, G. M. (2011). mHealth for mental health: Integrating smartphone technology in behavioral healthcare. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(6), 505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. MacDermid, S. M., Samper, R., Schwarz, R., Nishida, J., & Nyaronga, D. (2008). Understanding and promoting resilience in military families. West Lafayette, IN: Military Family Research Institute.Google Scholar
  54. MacDermid, S., Schwarz, R., Faber, A., Adkins, J., Mishkind, M., & Weiss, H. (2005). Military fathers on the front lines. In W. Marsiglio, K. Roy, & G. L. Fox (Eds.), Situated fathering: A focus on physical and social spaces (pp. 209–239). Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  55. Madge, C., & O’Connor, H. (2006). Parenting gone wired: Empowerment of new mothers on the internet? Social & Cultural Geography, 7(02), 199–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. McColl, L. D., Rideout, P. E., Parmar, T. N., & Abba-Aji, A. (2014). Peer support intervention through mobile application: An integrative literature review and future directions. Canadian Psychology, 55(4), 250–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. McDaniel, B. T., Coyne, S. M., & Holmes, E. K. (2012). New mothers and media use: Associations between blogging, social networking, and maternal well-being. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(7), 1509–1517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Merolla, A. J. (2010). Relational maintenance during military deployment: Perspectives of wives of deployed US soldiers. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 38(1), 4–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Metzler, C. W., Sanders, M. R., Rusby, J. C., & Crowley, R. N. (2012). Using consumer preference information to increase the reach and impact of media-based parenting interventions in a public health approach to parenting support. Behavior Therapy, 43(2), 257–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Minuchin, S. (1984). Family kaleidoscope. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Mulholland, A. (2011). New military social network focus on content and connection. PRWeb. Retrieved from
  62. Nieuwboer, C. C., Fukkink, R. G., & Hermanns, J. M. (2013). Peer and professional parenting support on the Internet: A systematic review. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(7), 518–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Noller, P., & Fitzpatrick, M. A. (1993). Communication and family relationships. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  64. Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family systems and ecological perspectives on the impact of deployment on military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychological Review, 16(3), 245–265. doi: 10.1007/s10567-013-0138-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Palmer, C. (2008). A theory of risk and resilience factors in military families. Military Psychology, 20(3), 205–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Patterson, G. R. (2005). The next generation of PMTO models. The Behavior Therapist, 28(2), 25–32.Google Scholar
  67. Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1998). Antisocial boys. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  68. Petree, C. A., & Dworkin, J. (2014). Parent internet use during a child’s emerging adulthood: Implications for extension. Journal of Extension, 52(1), 1–13. Retrieved from Scholar
  69. Pew Research Internet Project. (2014a, January). Retrieved from
  70. Pew Research Internet Project. (2014c, February). The Web at 25 in the U.S. Retrieved from
  71. Plantin, L., & Daneback, K. (2008). Research on parenthood and the Internet: Themes and trends. Cyberpsychology, 2(2), 1–10.Google Scholar
  72. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Ramsey, M. A., Gentzler, A. L., Morey, J. N., Oberhauser, A. M., & Westerman, D. (2013). College students’ use of communication technology with parents: Comparisons between two cohorts in 2009 and 2011. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(10), 747–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rudi, J., Dworkin, J., Walker, S., & Doty, J. (2014). Parents’ use of information and communications technologies for family communication: Differences by age of children. Information, Communication & Society, 18(1), 78–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Saini, M., Mishna, F., Barnes, J., & Polak, S. (2013). Parenting online: An exploration of virtual parenting time in the context of separation and divorce. Journal of Child Custody, 10(2), 120–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schachman, K. A. (2010). Online fathering: The experience of first-time fatherhood in combat-deployed troops. Nursing Research, 59(1), 11–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schuman, C. (2011). 9 ways families can stay connected during deployment. Retrieved from
  78. Seidel, A. J., Franks, M. M., Murphy, G. F., & Wadsworth, S. M. (2014). Bridging the distance: Illustrations of real-time communication of support between partners and deployed members of the National Guard. In S. MacDermid Wadsworth & D. S. Riggs (Eds.), Military deployment and its consequences for families (pp. 21–35). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Soorkia, M. (2014). Health and fitness apps for mobile devices. Retrieved from
  80. van Straten, A., Cuijpers, P., & Smits, N. (2008). Effectiveness of a web-based self-help intervention for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(1), e7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Walker, S. K., Dworkin, J., & Connell, J. (2011). Variation in parent use of information and communications technology: Does quantity matter? Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40(2), 106–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Walsh, F. (2006). Strengthening family resilience. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  83. Way, H. (2014) Technology has made us lonely but wearables reconnect us. Retrieved from
  84. Werber, L., Schaefer, A. G., Osilla, K. C., Wilke, E., Wong, A., Breslau, J. & Kitchens, K. E. (2013). Support for the 21st-century reserve force: Insights to facilitate successful reintegration for citizen warriors and their families. Retrieved from
  85. Wheeler, A. R., & Stone, R. A. T. (2010). Exploring stress and coping strategies among National Guard spouses during times of deployment: A research note. Armed Forces & Society, 36(3), 545–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wiens, T. W., & Boss, P. (2006). Maintaining family resiliency before, during, and after military separation. In C. A. Castro, A. B. Adler, & T. W. Britt (Eds.), Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat (Vol. 3, pp. 13–38). Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  87. Willerton, E., Schwarz, R. L., MacDermid Wadsworth, S. M., & Oglesby, M. S. (2011). Military father’s perspectives on involvement. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 521–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wilson, S. R., Chernichky, S. M., Wilkum, K., & Owlett, J. S. (2014). Do family communication patterns buffer children from difficulties associated with a parent’s military deployment? Examining deployed and at-home parents’ perspectives. Journal of Family Communication, 14(1), 32–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Wilson, J. A., Onorati, K., Mishkind, M., Reger, M. A., & Gahm, G. A. (2008). Soldier attitudes about technology-based approaches to mental health care. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(6), 767–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wong, L., & Gerras, S. J. (2010). The effects of multiple deployments on army adolescents (p. 39). Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Center for Telehealth and TechnologyTacomaUSA
  2. 2.Private PractitionerMenardUSA

Personalised recommendations