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Dynamo survey asks: Just how worried are parents over mobile device use?

When we first came up with the idea for Dynamo, it was based on our own experience and concerns as parents along with those of other personal acquaintances. What we couldn't say for sure was just how prevalent our worries were for other parents.

From what age are kids getting their first devices and beginning to develop undesirable habits with them? Just how worried are parents about how much time their children spend with smartphones in their hands and the threat of online predators? What is it exactly about smartphone use that troubles parents most?

We quickly discovered there was plenty of thirst for a solution like Dynamo, but these questions still needed some clarification, so we conducted our own survey of American parents aged 35-45 to gain a clearer understanding of their concerns.

How early is too early?

One interesting detail we noticed immediately was that nearly half (43%) of respondents with children 10 or younger said their kids had their own mobile devices, many with an unlimited data plan, giving them unfettered access to the entire online world.

In fact, this result included children as young as 2 and kids with multiple devices of their own. This highlights the difficulty parents face in limiting their children's access to smart devices at a young age, despite 80% of respondents expressing concern over the amount of time their kids spend on their digital devices.

Is it realistic to keep your kids’ smartphone free into their teenage years? Peer pressure makes this more and more difficult the older they get and, as one respondent pointed out, kids need to be proficient in technology to have any chance of success in the modern workforce.

Is device use providing real value?

To be sure, it's an impossible task to weigh all the positives and negatives of smartphone use and make a blanket judgment one way or the other. On one hand, familiarity with mobile technology helps kids prepare for the future, be more efficient with their school work and puts endless knowledge at the tips of their fingers. On the other hand, parents are worried about the value mobile devices provide for their children, and they have every right to be if the situation isn’t being handled correctly. Predators could even be lurking online where children may encounter them.

When asked if their children regularly lose track of time while engaged in mindless activities on mobile devices, over 80% answered in the affirmative, though some pointed out that the same sometimes happens to them (even parents have a thing or two to learn sometimes).

We heard about all kinds of measures taken to reduce excessive use and its negative effects, but most described an uphill battle characterized by frustration and fear - fear for their children's social development, fear from predators online and even fear for their eyesight.

This all adds up to an experience of questionable value for children - one of the main factors taken into consideration with the creation of Dynamo. Fewer and fewer parents will have the will to keep kids away from mobile devices past a certain age, but finally giving in comes with a series of concerns to be mitigated. Dynamo includes tools to help kids stay safe in the digital jungle and conditions the use of their devices on an experience that provides real educational value. If your children want to spend mindless time in front of a screen, Dynamo guarantees that they'll have to use it for something mindful first.

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