Key Research

The New Normal: Parents, Teens, Screens, and Sleep in the United States

Key Takeaways:

  • 68 percent of teens take their devices to bed, including almost a third who sleep with them in their beds 
    • This is not conducive to good sleep hygiene
  • Conflicts between kids and parents over mobile device use are less common than they were three years ago
  • This survey is unique in that it addresses how parents and teens see each other’s mobile device use
    • Teens think their parents spend too much time on their own devices
  • In a Common Sense 2016 survey, it was reported that half of teens felt “addicted” to their mobile devices; even more parents (59%) characterized their kids as being addicted
    • Substantially fewer children felt addicted to their mobile devices today than in 2016. Just 39% of teens felt addicted today, compared to 50% in 2016.
    • This could be the result of mobile device “normalization” among children today, many of whom have been surrounded by technology since birth. 
  • Most parents and kids don’t think mobile devices are hurting their relationships
    • Majorities of both parents (55%) and children (72%) say that the use of mobile devices has had no impact on their relationships with each other, 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.

 

LiveMore ScreenLess’ Summary

Some researchers express skepticism about technology addiction, likening it to previous moral panics about TV, comic books, or music and say that the connections between mobile device use and poor social-emotional outcomes is poorly understood and underwhelming.  For example, a study by Orben and Przybylski (2019) looked across three large data sets and found that digital technology use could only explain roughly 0.4% of an adolescent’s well-being. But the fact that kids may not actually be “addicted” to their devices doesn’t mean mobile devices aren’t causing issues. 

Parents don’t need a new study or a diagnosis to feel that smartphones and tablets are taking time away from important areas like sleep, family time, academics, or mealtimes

By some estimates, the effects of sleep on teens’ well-being could be as much as 44 times greater than the effects of digital technology use (Orben & Przybylski, 2019). Many studies show that this lack of sleep is due to technology, however.

There has been an 11-point increase in the percentage of teens who felt that their parent spent too much time on mobile device, from 28% in 2016 to 39% in 2019

Substantially fewer children felt addicted to their mobile devices today than in 2016. Just 39% of teens felt addicted today, compared to 50% in 2016.

This could be the result of mobile device “normalization” among children today, many of whom have been surrounded by technology since birth. 

Children see an impact on their relationship with their parent when they believe their parent is addicted to their mobile device. Children who believe their parent is addicted to their device are 18 points 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).

The author of this study recommends finding a balance between use, family time, sleep, and other healthy options. 

Topics: Parenting , Sleep

Year: 2019

Participants: 1,000 parents and children