How Adults Can Best Respond to Teen Tech Addiction

The results are in: Teens are literally addicted to technology. Here's how adults should respond. 

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Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids use and understand media and technology as positive forces, just unveiled new research regarding teen (and parent) technology addiction.

The report, “Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance,” surveyed 1,240 parents and tweens/teens (ages 8-18) to examine the cost of our society’s increasingly plugged-in lifestyle.

Here are some key findings:

  • Half of teens say that they feel addicted to their mobile devices. 
  • Almost 80 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly.  
  • Just over 70 percent of teens feel pressure to respond to texts and social media notifications immediately.
  • 36 percent of parents and 32 percent of teens say that they argue about device use on a daily basis. 
  • Slightly more than half of teens see their parents using their mobile devices while driving.

The study confirmed what we all already know: Technology is more than prevalent, and it’s interfering with our productivity, our mental health, our relationships, and even our safety.

So, now what?

The obvious, exponentially easier-said-than-done solution is to cut back—fast. But tech is a majorly integral part of our world, and it’s nearly impossible to quit full-stop.

Yes, teens seem to very literally need their phones, but it’s not as if all they’re doing is wasting time. They’re pressing buttons to power their friendships, their passions, and in some cases—their future college funds. Need proof? Take a look at how these teens are utilizing social media.

As we work toward lessening our dependence on all things digital, we have to keep in mind that demonizing technology and media isn’t going to fix anything. Instead, educate and empower your teens to safely use their online prowess as an avenue for making their mark on the world. (Start with this digital citizenship blogging project!)

For more ways to enable—not force—teens to achieve tech balance on their own, check out the lessons learned about teens and their phones from health teacher Amy Lauren Smith. Her key advice: Don't always assume the worst of teens and tech, and don't always assume they know what's best.