Screen time has been a much debated parenting topic ever since technology transformed our daily lives. We became more connected, more updated, yet we also have complicated a relationship with technology. Several studies have delved into the negative effects of screen time on kids, and constantly discussed is how much time kids should spend watching TV, using the computer, and smartphones combined. (If you want to know the latest, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually released an updated and more flexible guidelines for how parents can manage their children's screen time -- some parents are happy about it, some are not.) Past research has shown that teens spend around nine hours a day watching videos, playing games, or listening to music. Kids aged eight to 12 spend six hours doing the same things.
Now, in a new study commissioned by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that helps parents, educators and children negotiate media and technology, it reveals that parents of teens and tweens have their eyes glued to screens at least for the same amount of time as their kids and sometimes even more. Let's face it: not exactly a shocker (you're probably reading this on your phone right now). The study looked into screen time habits of 1,700 parents of children aged 8 to 18 and asked them about their attitude and concerns about their kids' and their own media use.
One could argue that parents involved in the survey clock in a huge amount of time because their work perhaps involves these gadgets, but it's the complete opposite. More than 80 percent of the time -- that's almost eight hours -- the grown-ups are accessing screens for entertainment and pleasure: watching TV, playing video games, social networking, and surfing the web. Yet, 78 percent of the parents, mostly moms, believe they are good role models to their children when in comes to media and tech use. Clearly, there is a gap between what parents “want” and “do” when it comes to the digital life.
"I think it tells you that (parents) are not that different than their kids," Michael Robb, director of research for Common Sense Media, told CNN. "It's going to be, I think, a challenge, and has been a challenge, for parents to find what the right balance is for them and for their children."
The good news is that parents want to be good digital role models for their kids, and they are trying their best to navigate this hot parenting issue, recognizing that media offers a lot of positive benefits to the children. While they're not as worried about the kids' media use affecting school work, they are concerned about incidents of cyberbullying and other online risks on social media, and how it affects the kids’ social skills, their ability to focus, the lack of physical activity, and their sleep quality.
Common Sense Media stressed that the study was done to aid parents in establishing tech rules for the kids -- and parents. It aims to shed light and better improve the way parents manage and monitor their kids’ media use, as well as finding ways to improve how parents and kids can talk about the issue and work together.
"The sheer amount of media and tech in our lives makes it tough to monitor and manage our own use -- let alone our kids. And though screen-time guidelines are helpful, there are no hard-and-fast rules about how much is OK and how much is 'too much,'" Robb said in a statement. Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, suggested to TechTimes that parents have to set their own rules regarding a healthy "technology diet" and stick to it, which can strongly influence their children.
How much time do you, parents, spend looking at screens overall? How do you plan to lessen it? Share with us in the comments below or send us a message in Facebook!