Editor’s Note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter @kellywallacetv.
Parents spend nine hours per day on average with screens, according to survey
Despite their screen use, 78% think they are good media role models for their kids
If you think your tween or teen spends too many hours online, you might need to look in the mirror before you dish out screen time criticisms. According to a new survey, parents spend as much time plugged in each day as their teens and three hours more per day than their tweens.
The survey, sponsored by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that helps parents, educators and children negotiate media and technology, found that parents of tweens and teens spend more than nine hours a day on average on screens. More than 80% of that time was for pleasure, not work, with parents watching television, playing video games, social networking, browsing websites, or doing other things on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Last year, in a survey of 8- to 18-year-olds, Common Sense Media found that teens spend the same amount of time – about nine hours each day on average – on devices or other screens. Tweens, identified as children 8 to 12, spend about six hours on average consuming media, the report found.
“I think it tells you that (parents) are not that different than their kids,” said Michael Robb, director of research for Common Sense Media.
And yet, 78% of parents felt that they were good role models for their children when it comes to media and technology, according to the national survey of nearly 1,800 parents of children ages 8 to 18. This is the first survey by Common Sense Media to focus on parents’ screen use and attitudes.
“So there’s a tension there,” said Robb, noting how parents who think they are good role models worry about their children’s screen use, but still spend plenty of time on screens themselves.
“It’s going to be, I think, a challenge, and has been a challenge, for parents to find what the right balance is for them and for their children,” he added.
Micky Marie Morrison, a mom of two boys, ages 10 and 14, in Islamorada, Florida, said she thinks about her kids when she herself struggles with how addictive social media can be.
“I see it in myself. I have to open and close Facebook two or three times a day and not leave it open because it’s just such a waste of time,” said Morrison, the founder of BabyWeight TV, who says she spends about five hours a day on screens, with 70% of the time devoted to work.
“It can be hours a day just gone … and I can see that happening to my kids as well, so I want to model when I’m with them that I’m not ignoring them to look at Facebook on my phone. I’m actually with them.”