Survey: Teens cutting back on mobile screen, social media time



Survey: Teens cutting back on mobile screen, social media time

According to a new survey from Pew Research Center, teens are cutting back on mobile phone and social media usage. Parents, not so much. The study finds that those between 13 and 17 are consciously trying to reduce their screen time.

The survey captured attitudes of both teens and parents in March and April of this year. The survey population was 743 American teens and just over 1,000 adults. Some of the parent responses were interesting, but I’ll mostly focus on the teen responses. (There was also a second parent survey.)

The data show that a majority (54 percent) of teens believe they spend too much time in front of their mobile phones. A substantial minority (41 percent) also agree they spend too much time on social media. However, a majority (57 percent) of teens say they’re cutting back on social media time. Teens are also reducing time with mobile screens, which is an overlapping proposition.

The survey found that girls are more likely to have emotional reactions (anxiety, loneliness) when separated from their phones. Girls were also more likely to report that they spend too much time on social media. Boys were more likely to say they spend too much time playing online/video games.

Another interesting finding: teens are more concerned about their use of technology than parents were about their own screen time. However, a majority of parents (65 percent) expressed concern about their own kids’ use of technology and sought to impose limits.

The survey doesn’t get at any underlying reasons for teen and parent attitudes or whether they represent a shift from the past. However, popular writing and discussion about dependence on screens and social media has taken a negative turn over the past several years.

It’s unclear whether these survey results portray a fleeting snapshot of cultural anxiety around screens and their influence or whether they reflect a more profound shift in usage patterns of social media and mobile devices.

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