More than a third of teens say they spend too much time on their phones, new study finds

More than a third of teens say they spend too much time on their phones, new study finds - Lifestyle & health - News

A Significant Number of Teens Are Cutting Back on Their Social Media and Smartphone Use

The era of constant connectivity is witnessing a shift as an increasing number of teenagers are reevaluating their screen time. According to a recent report published by the Pew Research Center, approximately 40% of American teens have admitted to reducing their usage of social media platforms and cutting down on their smartphone engagement.

The call for caution regarding the potential negative impact of social media on young users’ mental health, well-being, and overall development continues to intensify. US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy previously stated that the minimum age of 13, which is the entry point for many social media platforms, might be too early for children to engage in such digital environments. Moreover, several US states have attempted to introduce legislations aimed at preventing teens under the age of 16 from utilizing social media, despite facing significant legal resistance.

Teens appear to be taking matters into their own hands by setting stricter boundaries for their tech use, considering the growing concerns surrounding social media’s impact on young minds. According to a survey conducted in December 2023 by Pew Research Center, almost all US teens (95%) have access to a smartphone. Furthermore, one-third of the teen population reportedly uses at least one major social media platform – YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook – almost incessantly.

Girls, who are often perceived as being more susceptible to mental health and body image issues related to social media use, are more likely to acknowledge spending excessive time on their phones (44%). However, 51% of all teens surveyed believe they are using smartphones and social media platforms just the right amount.

The Pew report indicates that teenagers who feel they spend too much time on social media and their smartphones are more inclined to cut back on both. The survey, conducted between September 26th and October 23rd, 2023, questioned a sample of 1,453 US teenagers aged between 13 and 17 and their parents.

When asked about their emotions while being phone-less, 72% of the teen respondents reported feeling happy at times. However, a considerable proportion (44%) revealed feelings of anxiety when separated from their devices. The report notes that between 7% and 32% of the teens surveyed frequently experience negative emotions such as anxiety, upset, or loneliness when away from their phones.

Despite the mixed feelings, an overwhelming majority of teens (68%) believe that the advantages of smartphones outweigh the disadvantages for their age group. Teens generally view smartphones as tools that facilitate creativity, help pursue hobbies, and improve academic performance. However, a considerable number (42%) believe that smartphones make it more challenging for young people to learn essential social skills.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recommended that teens should undergo training before engaging with social media, emphasizing that these tools are neither inherently harmful nor beneficial but require instruction in social media literacy and psychological development to minimize potential negative consequences.

Parental vigilance is at an all-time high as many parents closely monitor their children’s smartphone and social media usage. Half of the parent respondents reported checking their kids’ phones, with a higher percentage of parents keeping tabs on younger teens. In most instances, teenagers are aware of this supervision.

Social media platforms have responded to criticism by introducing features that allow parents to oversee their teens’ usage while maintaining privacy. These tools include family centers and other monitoring options, giving parents more control and transparency into their children’s contact activities.