How much do you really know about your child's mobile addiction?
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
It used to be television, then video games. Before those, it was probably radio, reading and playing with a stick and a tire. Today it's smartphones, mobile games, and social media on the go that have parents worried about how their children spend their time. Admittedly, the march of technology has moved us closer to activities that can be truly addictive and don't provide any added value - far less than reading or playing with sticks at least.
While, as with most technologies, smartphones can be a curse, we believe that they’re a blessing when children use them correctly. Having that kind of information that smartphones provide at the tips of their fingers can be educational and enlightening. Even certain games can help build powers of critical thinking and work as a great reward system for when they perform well in school or fulfil other tasks that are expected of them.
So, the question then becomes, how are your children using their mobile devices? Are they hiding certain ways they use it from you? Is their behavior addictive? If so, how bad is the problem?
Obviously, we can't tell you much about your children specifically, but if you are concerned or just want to know more about the potential impact of all that screen time your children are getting, here are a few facts you should know, all according to the Common Sense Census of media use by Tweens and Teens released in 2019:
On average, 8-12-year-olds get nearly 5 hours of entertainment time in front of a screen every day. This increases to almost 7 1/2 hours for teens over the age of 12.
Children watch twice as much video content every day as they did in 2015, but the amount of time spent in front of a TV has dropped significantly.
Over 50% of children already have a smartphone by the age of 11 and jumps to 69% among 12-year-olds.
Kids these days spend the same amount of time on social media per day as they ever have but are opening social media accounts earlier and earlier.
Digital devices give us all amazing new tools to create our own content, but statistics show that children spend very little time doing so.
Just 12% of teens say they use a digital tool to track the time they spend on their device, though a quarter of them say their parents use apps to track their activity.
These stats show us a few things. First, screens are everywhere for all children at a young age and they won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Moreover, children are likely to be interacting with them from earlier and earlier ages.
Second, there does seem to be a tendency to use digital devices habitually, in ways that can be described as addictive and influential on your children's social and emotional development. Third, and finally, parents seem to be struggling to find a solution even when they do recognize a problem and have tools at their disposal to track their children’s' device use. There is clearly a need to shift habits and integrate new tools into your children’s smartphone usage that will make it beneficial rather than detrimental.
Are you worried that negative digital device use might be getting out of hand in your household? You may want to check out our multi-part guide to parenting in the smartphone era.