Kids are glued to their screens – but parents are in no position to criticize

A study has found teens are hyperconnected to their phones but many of their parents have a problem with their own screen time

Parents lament their teenagers’ noses being constantly buried in their phones, but they might want to take stock of their own screen habits, according to a new report.

Two-thirds of parents are concerned about the amount of time their “hyperconnected” teenage children spend in front of screens – and yet more than a third expressed concern about their own screen time, a US study published on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found.

And more than half of teens said they often or sometimes find their parents or caregivers to be distracted by their electronic devices when the youngsters are trying to have a conversation with them. The study calls teens’ relationship with their phones at times “hyperconnected” and notes that nearly three-quarters check messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Parents do the same, but at a lower, if still substantial, rate of 57%.

Big tech companies face a growing backlash against the addictive nature of their gadgets and apps, the endless notifications and other features created to keep people tethered to their screens.

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Many teens are trying to do something about it themselves. A total of 52% said they have cut back on the time they spend on their phones and 57% did the same with social media.

Experts say parents have a big role in their children’s screen habits and setting a good example is a big part of it.

“Kids don’t always do what we say but they do as we do,” said Donald Shifrin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who was not involved in the Pew study. “Parents are the door that kids will walk through on their way to the world.”

The study surveyed 743 US teens and 1,058 US parents of teens from 7 March to 10 April 2018. The margin of error is 4.5%.

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