Are We Addicted To Our Mobile Devices?

A new survey reveals that we may be more addicted to mobile devices may be worse than we admit to ourselves.

Children’s advocacy group Common Sense Media says that its study is the first that looks into the growing dependence on technology that was supposed to empower us, writes Sharon Noguchi for Mercury News.

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Teens and parents admit to being addicted to technology

The San Francisco-based group released the results of its survey on Tuesday after polling 620 parents and 620 teens. It shows that almost 59% of parents believe that their teenage children are addicted to cellphones, tablets or laptops. Almost 50% of teens agree, while it is interesting to note that 27% of parents believe that they themselves are addicted.

The survey suggests that heavy use of mobile devices is causing problems in the home. Arounnd one-third of parents and teens say that use of technology is the source of daily arguments, while only 21% of parents and 30% of children say they never argue about it.

“I have these conversations all the time,” said Dina Lara, a San Jose mother of two. She says that she has taken away her 15-year-old daughter’s cellphone for a five month stretch.

Human interaction altered by mobile devices

The survey reveals that 78% of teens and 69% of parents look at their devices at least once an hour, while 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel like they have to respond to text messages immediately.

“I think this is a huge deal for society,” Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer said. He says that technology is changing how we interact with each other and the relationships we maintain.

“I worry that the phone is attached to her always, always,” said Jennifer Carole about her 16-year-old daughter. However for some parents technology helps them keep track of their kids. “I know when she’s awake in the morning because she starts liking things on Instagram,” said Carole, a Santa Cruz-based social media marketing consultant.

Are we able to control technology, or does it control us?

The internet has become the primary form of entertainment for many. A previous poll found that teens spent 9 hours per day online, and that is only on entertainment, not work.

The study reveals that 77% of parents say their children get distracted by technology and don’t pay attention to them. Some 41% of teens say that mobile devices cause inattentiveness in their parents.

Despite many people saying that they fight over accusations of being addicted to mobile devices, 85% and 89% of teens believe that technology hasn’t harmed their parent-child relationship. Two-thirds of parents and teens say mobile devices are banned at the dinner table.

Michael Robb, Common Media’s director of research, said kids might struggle to remember the days when technology was not so present. “Maybe they don’t realize that family life could be different.”

Despite the alarming figures raised in the survey, the researchers underline the need to look at more than simple measurements of time. “What looks like excessive use and distraction may actually be a reflection of new ways of maintaining peer relations and engaging in communities,” the study observed.

Some parents, such as Rebecca Eisenberg, were quick to praise the positive impact of technology on parent-child relationships. She listed 13 ways that iPhones have improved the way that she interacts with her children of 10 and 13 years of age.

Technology is supposed to make our lives better. The challenge is to make sure that we remain in control of our devices and don’t become addicted to them.