By Mike Robb, Common Sense Media
Look around, and it’s easy to see how media and technology have changed our day-to-day lives, even compared to a decade ago. We bring our devices with us everywhere and depend on them for work, school, play, and our social lives. But what are the downsides to this “always connected” lifestyle — especially for kids?
To find answers to these questions — and, more importantly, to help families create a healthy digital lifestyle — Common Sense examines the latest scientific research about problematic media use in our report, Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance. Along with the report, we’re releasing the results of a poll, Dealing with Devices: The Parent-Teen Dynamic, which asks teens and parents how they feel about the technology in their lives.
What we determined is that problematic media use is a growing issue, but true technology addiction — while associated with very serious repercussions — may be a real risk for only a vulnerable few. The report reveals large gaps in research on technology addiction. For example, when does problematic media use become harmful? And if people aren’t actually addicted, what’s going on — and how can parents help? Much of the existing research was conducted with college students and adults, not specifically with children. To understand how media use affects kids as they grow, we need much better research. Here’s what we know now:
Highlights from the poll:
And findings from the report:
While there are no easy answers, we do know parents can have a huge impact on how kids use media. The challenge is figuring out how to get the most from technology without letting it get out of control. By taking a balanced approach to media and technology — setting screen limits, establishing device-free zones, and reducing multitasking — you can help your whole family develop healthy media habits.