Teresa Correa of the University Diego Portales in Santiago surveyed 242 parent/child sets and found youth influencing their parents in all technologies studied -- computer, mobile Internet, social networking -- as much as 40 percent of the time, a report of her study in the Journal of Communication said.
While past studies have connected younger family members' influence on older family members with computers and the Internet, they had not explored the extent to which this process occurs and what factors play a role, Correa said.
The bottom-up influence process was more likely to occur with mothers and lower socioeconomic families, she said she found, similar to what happens among low-income immigrant families where the children act as language and culture links between the family and the new environment.
Digital media represents a new environment for such families, she said.
"The fact that this bottom-up technology transmission occurs more frequently among women and lower-SES families has important implications," Correa said. "Women and poor people usually lag behind in the adoption and usage of technology.
"These [study] results suggest that schools in lower-income areas should be especially considered in government or foundation-led intervention programs that promote usage of digital media," she said.