Digital Citizenship Tip of the Week – 5/5/2016



 Today, Common Sense is proud to release a new research brief: Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance. The brief addresses many of the questions and concerns that parents, educators, and others have about about children’s use of media and technology. Are children addicted to their devices? And, even if children aren’t actually addicted, how should we understand unhealthy engagement with media? What are the human costs of this “always connected” lifestyle, especially for our children?  Along with the report, we’re releasing the results of a poll, Dealing with Devices: The Parent-Teen Dynamic which asks 1,240 teens and parents how they feel about the technology in their lives.

With the release of the report and the poll, Common Sense Media continues to assert itself as a leader in impactful and important research, which will have a long reach in its implications for parents, educators, policymakers, and others. This research brief was featured on the Today show this morning in an exclusive interview with Jim, and will continue to make news in the coming days. All report materials can be found on the Common Sense website.

Below are highlights from the poll:

  • Half of teens and over one-quarter of parents feel they are addicted to their mobile device

  • At least a few times a week, more than three-quarters of parents and 41% of teens feel the other gets distracted by their devices and doesn’t pay attention when they are trying to talk

  • 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages, and other notifications

  • Despite conflicts, most parents feel their teens’ use of mobile devices has made no difference or even helped their relationship.

And selected key findings from the white paper:

  • Internet addiction is potentially serious. There is no agreement on whether it’s a true addiction, how to measure it, or whether it’s something that is highly related to or even caused by another disorder, such as depression or ADHD. However, “Internet gaming disorder,” which involves excessive online gaming, may be included by the American Psychiatric Association in the next version of the DSM (the resource used to diagnose psychiatric disorders).

  • Multitasking may be harming our ability to stay focused. Multitasking is actually a misnomer; we may think we’re doing multiple things simultaneously, but we’re often rapidly shifting our attention between individual tasks. Research shows that multitasking can hurt your ability to get things done, slow you down, and make it harder to remember things that happened while you were multitasking.

  • Media and technology use is a source of friction for many families. Many children feel their parents check their devices too often, and a large number of parents struggle with limiting their children’s use of media and technology.

The report also reveals large gaps in our knowledge about technology addiction; to understand how media use affects kids as they grow, we need much better research.

Here’s what we suggest that you (and all families!) can do about it:

  • Encourage families to find balance by declaring tech-free zones and times, choosing age-appropriate, high-quality media and tech for kids, and connecting with kids and supporting learning by talking about the media they consume. Parents and kids alike need to understand the effects of multitasking, and parents can reinforce these lessons by being good role models.

  • If there is ever a question about whether a kid’s (or adult’s) media use is problematic, parents and educators can refer to our research or the Technology Addiction parent concern center where they will find dozens of advice articles, FAQs from parents, and other resources to identify the issue. And of course, we recommend families to seek expert help if needed

  • Establish ground-rules for homes, classrooms, cars, dinner tables, and offices by using our Family Media Agreement and Device Contract so that everyone can make the most out of their media and tech time.

Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.


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