A new report from Common Sense Media has detailed the serious impacts that internet addiction have on people, suggesting that further research is necessary in order to fully understand the implications on children's physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Titled "Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance," the survey of 1,240 parents and their teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 found teens are reporting spending too much time on their phones. At the same time, they are turning the tables on their parents, with close to half saying they too are distracted by their phones and not paying attention during family time.
In all, 52% of teenagers and 66% of parents felt teens are spending too much time with their eyes on their phones. Some took it one step further, with 50% of teens and 59% of parents saying the age group is addicted to mobile phones.
However, when the same question was asked about parents, only 27% of parents and 28% of teenagers reported parents being addicted to mobile phones. When it came down to family time though, 41% of teenagers felt their parents became easily distracted by their phones, compared to 77% of parents who said the same of their teens.
Survey results also found that 80% of teens report checking their phones on an hourly basis, while 72% said they felt the need to immediately respond to texts and social network messages. At the same time, 36% of parents said cell phone use was a daily discussion in their house, and 77% of parents said they felt their teens become distracted by their phones to the point they are not paying attention to them at least a few times each week.
"Technological addiction can happen to anyone," said digital detox expert Holland Haiis, who describes technology as "the new 21st century addiction" in her book "Consciously Connecting: A Simple Process to Reconnect in a Disconnected World."
"If your teens would prefer gaming indoors, alone, as opposed to going out to the movies, meeting friends for burgers or any of the other ways that teens build camaraderie, you may have a problem."
The study looked at all past research concerning internet addiction, finding data from a 2011 review of 18 research studies that suggest somewhere between zero and 26% of adolescents and college students in the United States might be affected by internet addiction. However, because it is not yet considered to be a disorder in this country, the study authors conclude that additional research is necessary in order to determine how real internet addiction is, and what the signs and consequences may be, reports Kelly Wallace for CNN.
It is not all bad news, as 37% reported either often or occasionally trying to spend less time on their devices.
Researchers concluded with a few recommendations. First, they suggest that parents be conscious of their own media habits, as children who see their parents using their phone more may be apt to do so themselves. They go on to say that formal media-literacy education in schools may be helpful to encourage healthy media habits.
They conclude by saying additional research is still needed in this area, especially pertaining to children, as much of the research they came across dealt with adults or college students.