Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Cynthia Gordon

Second Advisor

Melissa Luke


discourse analysis, ideology, indexicality, intensive mothering, membership categorization device, positioning

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The ubiquity of the smartphone is both celebrated and contested, since the possibility of constant connectivity is seen as simultaneously inviting and exciting on the one hand, and demanding and burdensome on the other. This thesis uses discourse analysis to analyze a television interview and an online comment forum to shed light on the ways in which experts and mothers talk about the impacts of technology on family interaction and parenting practices. I consider how both experts and parents discursively construct the family-technology relationship by analyzing how parents communicate about technology use (both their own and their children's), the emotional and practical elements of decision-making regarding technology and how these reveal ideologies about the impact of technology on parenting. My primary findings support a body of research that indicates that a mention of parenting in general can be interpreted to implicate mothers specifically. As such, the conversation about the relationship between parenting and technology is constrained by cultural ideologies about maternal responsibility for the care of children and philosophies about the affordances of technology, and entangled with questions of access and class. All of this influences how experts and parents negotiate their identities and work to position themselves as competent on each of these fronts.


Open Access