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Parents and teens equally screen addicted

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Did you ever wonder why kids spend so much time on their phones? Don’t ask the parents, often they’re just as bad or worse, 38% of teens feel their parent is addicted to their mobile device.

There’s more; a majority of children with a parent who feels addicted to their mobile device also feels addicted themselves, creating households where the entire family is more likely to feel addicted to their mobile devices. More than half (56%) of teens who have a parent who feels addicted to their device feels addicted themselves.

The results are alarming and derive from commonsense’s Screens and Sleep research paper.

There is also not much of a break from phones even when sleeping; parents and teens keep their mobile devices close by at night, including a third of teens who keep their mobile devices in bed with them.

At night, parents say they keep their device within reach of the bed (62%). While at a lower rate than parents, many children also say they have their device within reach of their bed (39%), but they are more than twice as likely as their parent to have it in the bed with them (29%). Girls tend to sleep with their mobile devices more than boys (33% of girls vs. 26% of boys).

One in three teens (36%) wakes up and checks their mobile device for something other than the time at least once a night. One in four parents (26%) does this as well. While parents say they are waking up and checking because they received a notification (51%) and/or couldn’t sleep (48%), children say they are waking up and checking because they received a notification (54%) and/or they want to check social media (51%).

When it comes to feeling addicted, most kids aren’t concerned, but their parents are worried. Forty-five percent of parents feel personally addicted to their mobile device, an 18-point increase since 2016. For children, 39% feel addicted themselves, an 11-point decline since 2016.

Thirty-eight percent of teens feel their parent is addicted to their mobile device, a 10-point increase since 2016. The number of parents who think their child is addicted to their mobile device has remained consistent over time (61% today vs. 59% in 2016).

There are many households where everyone feels addicted to their devices. A majority of children with a parent who feels addicted to their mobile device also feels addicted themselves, creating households where the entire family is more likely to feel addicted to their mobile devices. More than half (56%) of teens who have a parent who feels addicted to their device feels addicted themselves.

Have we given up on limiting our screen time? Yup, conflicts over mobile device use are less common than they were three years ago.

Parents say they argue with their children over mobile device use less often today (54% say less than once a day and 21% say never) than they did in 2016 (when 43% said less than once a day and 21% said never). Parents who believe their child is addicted to their device are six times more likely than those who don’t think their child is addicted to argue with their child once a day or more (34% vs. 5%).

Most parents and kids don’t think mobile devices are hurting their relationships, but almost one-third of parents think that their child’s use of a mobile device has hurt their relationship with their child (28%). Only 9% of children think their relationship with their parent has been hurt. Parents of sons (32%) believe that the impact of mobile devices has hurt their relationships more than parents of daughters (25%). There has been little change in children’s views over time.

Children who believe their parent is addicted to their device are more likely to believe that their parent’s behavior has hurt their relationship (20% of children who think their parent is addicted vs. 2% who do not). Similarly, parents who believe their child is addicted to their device are 31 points more likely to believe that their child’s behavior has hurt their relationship (40% of parents who think their child is addicted vs. 9% who do not).


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