Teens and Parents Struggling With Smartphone ‘Addiction’

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Smartphones are changing family dynamics, and not necessarily for the better, according to one nonprofit’s analysis of survey results.

A recent survey by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teenagers “feel addicted” to mobile devices, and 59 percent of their parents believe their kids are addicted.

Around one-third of teens and their parents also cited mobile-device use as a cause of daily arguments.

In a news release about the survey results and an accompanying report about the effects of problematic media use, James Steyer, founder and chief executive of Common Sense, says:

“Mobile devices are fundamentally changing how families go about day-to-day lives, be it doing homework, driving, or having dinner together. What we’ve discovered is that kids and parents feel addicted to their mobile devices, that it is causing daily conflict in homes, and that families are concerned about the consequences.”

For the survey, 1,240 parents and teens from the same households (620 parents, 620 kids) were polled. The participating teens were between the ages of 12 and 18 and living at home. The participating parents and teens all used mobile devices.

Other survey results include that:

  • 72 percent of teens feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages and other notifications.
  • 78 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly.
  • 77 percent of parents feel their children get distracted by devices and don’t pay attention when they’re together at least a few times per week.

Teens aren’t the only ones glued to their phones, however. The survey results also include that:

  • 48 percent of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages and other notifications.
  • 69 percent of parents check their devices at least hourly.
  • 56 percent of parents admit they check their mobile devices while driving, with 51 percent of teens witnessing their parents checking or using their mobile devices when driving.

Amr Soror, an expert on technology addictions at California State University, Fullerton, told the Orange County Register newspaper earlier this year that mobile device addiction is complex:

“Every one of us has some level of addiction. It should be thought of as a continuum ranging from very low to very high.

Some people spend more time on their cellphones, but they are not addicted.”

Do you feel that you or other members of your household are addicted to technology? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

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