Parents spend just as much time with technology as their teen kids, so let’s stop shaming teenagers

It’s a common stereotype — the teenager who simply won’t put away his or her smartphone at the dinner table, and half-listens whenever their parent speaks because they’re distracted by social media or a fun app. But parents spend just as much time with technology as their teen kids, so it looks like we all need to reevaluate our tech habits.

The parents of tweens and teens spend approximately nine hours per day using technology, according to a new report from Common Sense Media. These same parents express concerns about the amount of screen time their children log each day, and believe they’re modeling healthy tech habits for their kids.


Michael Robb, director of the research, emphasizes that the report isn't meant to shame parents. “We’re not trying to make parents feel guilty, but we are trying to make them more aware," Robb says.

Contrary to what we may conclude from this statistic, these nine hours are not because adults have jobs that require staring at a computer screen all day.

In fact, the 1,786 parents surveyed reported that only 1.5 hours of their daily screen time is due to their jobs. The other 7.5 hours are spent in similar ways as their kids — texting, watching TV shows, browsing the web, and checking social media.


The bottom line is that technology has become a major part of our lives, and it’s here to stay.

With that in mind, Robb says a positive approach is making media a familial activity. For example, parents can share TV shows and play fun games with their kids. He also notes that there are key times to take breaks — over two-thirds of the parents surveyed allow their tweens and teens to use their devices in the car:

"[T]he car is one of those areas where your kids are a captive audience," Robb points out, so it's an ideal time to take a break from technology and fully engage in-person.

Figuring out the healthiest ways to use technology, both individually and as a family, is a work in progress — but the first step is being aware of our own tech habits.

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