Although researchers have yet to reach a consensus on whether ‘Internet addiction’ is real, parents are increasingly—and justifiably—concerned about their children’s technology and media usage, according to a new report released last week by Common Sense Media.
The tonic, the report suggests, is a “balanced” technology diet for children that includes tech-free times and zones. Common Sense also recommends that parents and caregivers put down their own phones while driving, at the dinner table, and during family time.
The report consists of a literature review of more than 180 journal articles, press accounts, interviews, books, and industry papers on the topic, as well as a new, nationally representative phone survey of 620 mobile-phone-using parents and 620 of their mobile-phone-using children between the ages of 12 and 18. Among the findings:
• Fifty-nine percent of parents—but just 27 percent of teenagers—feel that teens are addicted to their mobile devices.
• Seventy-eight percent of teens check their devices at least hourly, compared to 69 percent of parents.
• Roughly one-third of both parents and teens said they argued about device use daily, and more than three-fourths of parents reported feeling that their teens are distracted by devices and don’t pay attention to family members at least a few times per week.
The report also notes, however, that researchers have not established any formal link between social media usage and decreasing empathy among teens. And it says research is limited on the developmental impact of extensive Internet and mobile device usage on tweens and teens.
A version of this article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of Education Week as ‘Balanced’ Technology Diet Prescribed for Teens, Parents