We're used to hearing about parents concerned over how much screen time their kids are having, but could the tide be starting to turn the other way?
A new report by child advocacy group Common Sense Media (opens in new tab), which surveyed 500 pairs of parents and children across the United States, has found that young ones are almost as likely to worry about their parents' phone usage as the other way around.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that 68% of parents were concerned over their child's phone (opens in new tab) usage (at a pretty level 2% rise since 2016). Teens on the other hand are 11% more likely today to feel the same about their parents, at 39% compared to 28% in 2016. The report also stated that "56% of teens with a parent who feels 'addicted' to their device feels addicted themselves."
We're at the point where those of us who grew up being scolded for having phones at the table, and warned about the health risks of carrying around a mobile device at all times, are now seeing our own children recreate the same screen habits – and it makes sense that a generation aware of its own screen addiction doesn't want to pass on its problems.
But for better or worse, phones are increasingly normalized: something everyone is expected to have and be constantly accessible through. Phones are now as important for work emails, maintaining a brand on social media, and the daily news cycle as casual social calls.
The report found fewer teens than ever felt "addicted", down to 39% from 50% in 2016 – but parents feel more in thrall to their devices than ever, at 45% compared to 27%.
No phones at the table
One of the most concerning parts of the report is that 28% of parents said that "their teen's use of a mobile device has hurt their relationship", up from 15% in 2016.
By contrast, 72% of teens (and 55% of parents) said that phones in the home didn't affect their relationship with their parents at all. There's no consensus as to how these ubiquitous devices are affecting families, and results are always going to vary between homes – but as we use our phones more, it's clear that we have more anxiety over them than ever.
That said, there are now plenty of ways to help manage your screen time, whether that's through mobile parental controls, or Google's Screen Time app. And at a time when going without a phone is nigh impossible, learning how to live with one healthily has never felt more urgent.