Rising Teen Screen Time in US Sparks Research, Solutions. Credit | Getty Images
Rising Teen Screen Time in US Sparks Research, Solutions. Credit | Getty Images

Rising Teen Screen Time in US Sparks Research, Solutions 

United States: Take heart, parents who are annoyed by your children who seem to be addicted to their phones: new research suggests you can take them away from their gadgets. 
A University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) team found that two strategies seem to work best: limiting screens during meals or bedtime and modeling appropriate screen practices yourself. 

Parental Involvement 

“Setting screen time restrictions, monitoring your kids’ screen usage, and avoiding screens in bedrooms and during mealtimes are some practical techniques parents can employ with their tweens and early teens,” said Dr. Jason Nagata, the study’s first author. 
“Also, try to live up to your words,” pediatricians Nagata of UCSF’s Benioff Children’s Hospitals said. 

Survey Insights 

His group’s research was published in the journal Pediatric Research on June 5. 
Teens between the ages of 12 and 13 were the study’s target population. 
In a UCSF news release, Nagata said, “We wanted to look at young adolescents in particular because they are at a stage when mobile phone and social media use often ramps up and sets the course for future habits.” 

Rising Teen Screen Time in US Sparks Research, Solutions. Credit | Canva
Rising Teen Screen Time in US Sparks Research, Solutions. Credit | Canva

Their source was a group of more than ten thousand participants in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) research. In the survey, parents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “My child uses a screen-based device to fall asleep.” 

The researchers discovered that the answers to questions like these were crucial because if parents concurred that their child frequently fell asleep with a phone or other device close by, the child’s daily screen time increased by an average of 1.6 hours. 
Additionally, the study discovered that children’s daily screen usage increased by an average of almost 1.3 hours if parents reported that their child frequently browsed through phones at family mealtimes. 

Effective Restrictions 

However, according to Nagata’s research, enforcing laws prohibiting the use of phones in the bedroom and/or at the dinner table reduced tweens’ daily use by an average of 1.29 hours. 
It was shown that even “monitoring” a child’s phone use before bed or during meals had an effect, reducing daily screen time by an average of 0.83 hours. 
It also impacted what Mom and Dad did with their electronics. 

Futile Strategies 

Compared to children of parents who were more choosy about when they used phones or other screens, adolescents who had parents who engaged in what the researchers dubbed “poor modeling” added 0.66 hours of screen time per day to their screen time. 
One strategy that was ineffective was giving children extra screen time as a “reward” for excellent behavior or limiting it as a punishment. 

According to the study, tweens whose parents used those kinds of strategies actually watched screens for an additional 0.36 hours a day on average. 

Bedtime Impact 

Banning screens in bedrooms may be the most crucial action parents can take to reduce their children’s media use, according to Nagata. 
He clarified, “Screen time before bedtime replaces sleep time, which is crucial for young adolescents’ health and development.” “Parents should think about keeping screens outside of their kids’ bedrooms and turning off electronics and alerts at night.”