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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

To No One's Surprise, Teens See Benefits to Smart Phones

A new Pew Research report concludes that teens like their smart phones although they see some problems. In fact, almost half of teens surveyed experience some level of anxiety when they don't have their phones.  

Pew surveyed more than 1400 teens ages 13-17 and their parents. 76% of the parents reported making it a priority to manage how much time their teens spend on the phone, while only 39% of the teens reported making their own efforts to limit screen time. Most teens believe that the smart phones offer more benefits than harm, including assistance with homework, encouraging creativity, and encouraging hobbies. Only in the area of social skills did more teens find phones' making learning the skills harder (42%) than easier (30%).

Significantly, 30% of the teens reported feeling lonely without their smart phones.  More girls (45%) reported this effect than boys (34%).  

This study offers an interesting, and perhaps frightening, window into how teens view their smart phones. It's also interesting to note that, while most parents want to manage their teens' smart phone use, 43% of them think that it's hard to keep up with that task.  

The only help that the article offers those of us parenting or caring for teens is to consider the model that we set. 46% percent of teens reported their parents' being distracted by their own phones when teens were trying to talk to them. Only 31% of parents, however, saw themselves as being distracted during conversations. We definitely need a two-pronged approach of both managing our kids' screen time and putting away our own phones to talk them and teach them important life lessons.

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Roughly three-quarters of teens say it often or sometimes makes them feel happy (74%) or peaceful (72%) when they don’t have their smartphone. Smaller but notable shares of teens equate not having their phone with more negative emotions. Teens say not having their phone at least sometimes makes them feel anxious (44%), upset (40%) and lonely (39%). It is worth noting that only a minority of teens – ranging from 7% to 32% – say they often feel these emotions when they’re phone-less.


youth services law, ausburn_deborah, mental health research, insights