Remember the last time you saw a teenage boy or a teenage girl without a smartphone or a tablet? We don’t either. The smartphones have become an irreplaceable part of social life education and leisure time and we are only now beginning to understand the full consequences technology might be having on us.
The unavoidable presence of digital devices and screen time in older children and teens’ lives in the last 15 years has brought on dramatic changes in the way they function socially, emotionally and in the educational setting. And, the most recent research from 2018 published in the journal Emotion titled “Decreases in Psychological Well-Being Among American Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Screen Time During the Rise of Smartphone Technology” brings reliable data to confirm how big is this impact.
They surveyed 1.1 million US teenagers to assess the most significant areas of their lives such as the sense of self-esteem, overall satisfaction with life, and happiness to discover how screen time affects the psychological well-being. The results are not surprising.
Teens who spend too much time engaged with screens through digital devices as opposed to non-screen activities like social interaction with peers, sports or hobbies are the least happy. However, teens who spend excessively small amount s of time in electronic activities are unhappy, too. The ideal seems to be somewhere in the middle. The happiest are the teens who had a balanced, moderate amount of screen time.
At the same time, a new and important shift in how older kids and teens think about the time they spend on their phones is also starting to happen. In the report published in August 2018, the Pew Research Center reveals that 54% of U.S. teens say they feel they are spending too much time on digital devices. Surprisingly, your teen might be interested in helping you balance family screen time use!
Teens report the feelings of anxiety and distress when they are separated from their smartphones and roughly 40% of them check their smartphones as soon as they wake up in the morning. Their parents, however, are dealing with the same issue. Up to 36% of the surveyed parents say they are concerned about their own smartphone use and their children say that parents often get distracted by smartphones during the conversations.
Smartphones and other digital devices are placing a challenge before us all. Balancing the screen time with productive, creative and interpersonal activities is the answer to optimal development for children and teens and a more peaceful life for adults. If you’re looking for a starting point to balance your kids’ screen time, try Sowi Screen Time Balance for Android for free.
Nikolina is a psychologist (BSc) and a school counsellor. She focuses on writing about childhood development and other mental health topics in an easy-to-understand and fact-based manner. Nikolina’s writing about mental health matters relies on acceptance and mindfulness-based psychotherapy approaches.
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