What is Quality Time in Families and How do we Measure It?

Conference Highlights, Panels and Plenary
Critical Sociology of Families, Work and Care

For parents and their children, as well as for spouses, spending time together is central to the relationship and linked to well-being. We often hear about “quality time” with others, but what is meant by this? Recent social and technological changes may affect the amount of contact time between family members, including between spouses, and among parents and children. Moreover the kind of time parents spend with children and that partners spend with each other may be different than in the past. Screen time (or activities conducted through a portable electronic device such as a laptop computer, tablet, or phone) has increased profoundly, the content of what family members do may be more individualized, and technologies may allow paid work activities to intrude in many ways into family life. Against this backdrop, our panelists will discuss the meaning of family time together today, what it means to be together or “present” and how we can measure this, and the ways that people’s statuses such as gender, social class, ethnicity, and age matter for quality time together.


Lynda Ashbourne, University of Guelph

Andrea Doucet, Brock University

Casey Scheibling, McMaster University

Jiri Zuzanek University of Waterloo

Tags: Children and Youth, Parenting and Families, Research Methods

Organizer: Melissa Milkie, University of Toronto