As our world becomes more dependent on technology, the growing amount of time we spend on our devices is inevitable. But, a study by myvision.org shows us just how drastic that increase is, and parents are becoming concerned. Almost 1,000 parents and legal guardians were surveyed, with 59% saying they’re currently worried about the amount of time their kids look at screens.
Most respondents said they believe the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 is when both their own use of technology, as well as their kids, started to drastically increase. More specifically, 59% of parents say their own time spent in front of a device has increased. As for their children, 68% believe their kid’s screen time has increased since March of 2020 and 13% of them believe it will continue to increase over the next year.
The disconnect exists between expectations versus reality. Most parents (48%) believe their child should be in front of a screen for 2 hours or less each day. In reality, the survey shows that 78% of respondents estimate their children are actually looking at a screen for 3 or more hours every day.
The reality of the screen time parents are allowing, compared to the recommended screen time by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, shows a stark difference as well. Most parents (nearly 80%) admit they do not know the AAP recommendations. AAP recommends children between the ages of 2 and 5 should have an hour or less each day.
Data from respondents also reveals the age a child is introduced to technology is becoming younger. 74% of parents say they let their child use a device when they are 5 years old or younger. Almost 1 in 4 (24%) parents introduce their child to a device by the time they are 1.
Today, it’s not uncommon to see a child with a device, and more than likely that device is given to that child as their very own. The survey shows more than 4 out of 5 children (82%) have a device of their own to use. While 21% of that number comes from a device that’s been issued to a child by their school, looking at which devices are used the most can give parents a bigger picture of what screen time is being spent.
The #1 device children are regularly spending their screen time on is a TV, at 80%. The second place is an iPad/Tablet (63%), and third place is a cell phone (61%). In another close ranking, computers sit at #4 (49%) and gaming devices (48%) in the fifth spot.
Now that we know what common devices are being used, the data shows us exactly that for which they are being used. Of the top 10 reasons, kids use tech devices, over 90% of kids are in front of a screen for entertainment. This can help explain why nearly half (49%) of parents still believe their child has an addiction to staring at a screen.
Even though 74% say they monitor the amount of time their child spends staring at a device, respondents also revealed just how much the environment impacts when and how much screen time they allow their kids.
If parents are in a certain setting that requires quiet, good behavior, it’s more likely that they’ll give their child a device to distract or silence them. More than half of respondents let their children have screen time while they’re driving or eating out at a restaurant. Public settings where parents need to get tasks done, like appointments, flights/other public transportation, shopping, and doing chores, are also top reasons they give their child a device. But not all parents use technology regularly as a distraction, as 36% of parents say they never use screens as a distraction.
You can view the full results of the survey here.
We all know that balance is key. There’s no perfect world where we can have the good without the bad, and technology is no exception to that. Most parents (70%) do believe there are benefits to introducing their children to technology early on. Some of those reasons include adapting to technology quickly, educational purposes through apps and programs, enhancing motor skills, and communicating. Almost half (49%) also believe screen time has an impact on their child’s overall health. The negative impacts parents worry about include exposure to something inappropriate, addiction to screen time, hindered social skills, and hurting their eye health.
Can we take technology away from children completely? For most, the answer is no. But, for parents who are concerned about their child’s screen time, the data shows monitoring tech usage is common. Parents also have an influence on how and when their child gets to have screen time, proving parents have a much greater impact on preventing potential addiction to devices.