Those who spend more time on their phones report more relationship trouble
SALT LAKE CITY — Eight in 10 parents say their teenagers have their own phones, with 70 percent saying the phone is a smartphone, according to a new study by the Deseret News and BYU. Just 28 percent of parents say their 5- to 11-year-old children have phones. The results suggest that middle school may be the “sweet spot” when parents allow their kids to have mobile technology.
Tech for kids often comes with rules, and the survey found a majority of parents impose at least some restrictions on their children’s phone use. However, 49 percent say they impose no rules for their own phone use. In fact, 70 percent of adults reported spending “just the right amount of time on their phone,” and 92 percent said their phone has a positive or neutral effect on their relationships.
Yet, the survey found that 43 percent of heavy tech users (5-8 hours on a phone per day) reported experiencing relationship troubles, compared with 28 percent among those who spend only an hour on their phones each day.
These and other findings from the 2017 American Family Survey, conducted among 3,000 Americans by YouGov for the Deseret News and The Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, reveal the complicated nature of technology and its impact on families and relationships — and the fact that some families aren’t even aware of the depth of those impacts.
“We’ve gone through a lot of different media changes and generally been OK through the generations,” says Brandon T. McDaniel, an assistant professor in human development and family science at Illinois State University. “But I do … worry about the ways in which this is going to affect young children as they watch their parents be distracted by these devices and not really (pay) complete attention to them at times in which they need it.”