Tweens Parrot Their Parents' Phone Habits

Study finds a strong link in screen use
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2024 11:00 AM CDT
Tweens Parrot Their Parents' Phone Habits
   (Getty / monkeybusinessimages)

A new study has some advice for parents who want to unglue their tweens' eyeballs from their phones: Practice what you preach. The researchers used a questionnaire to collect data from 10,000 American parents and their 12- to 13-year-old children, reports NPR. They found a strong correlation between how much parents use their phones and their children's screen time, per HealthDay. "One of the biggest predictors of adolescents' screen use is their parents' screen use," lead author Jason Nagata tells the Washington Post. "Even if teens say that they don't get influenced by their parents, the data does show that, actually, parents are a bigger influence than they may think," Nagata adds to NPR.

The study also found that more than one-third of families said they watched screens during meals, and almost half of the tweens said they had access to their phones in bed. These habits were deemed most harmful by the researchers and typically correlated with using screens more. Nagata said that the most effective parenting practice was to ban phones at bedtime. "So if you only choose one rule to implement, that may be the most effective one for reducing total screen time," he advises.

The study in Pediatric Research also showed that setting clear limits on screen time works, but using it as a carrot and stick for behavior usually backfires. Based on the findings, Nagata recommends setting a plan for screen use and sticking to it as a family. "In a few years, they will be older adolescents, and once they're 18, they are able to make all these decisions on their own," he says, "so you do want to teach them good practices that they can incorporate into their adult life." (The surgeon general wants to put warnings on social media.)

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