Even teens worry about spending too much time on their smartphones, survey says

Hyperconnected teens are uneasy about smartphone dependency, according to a new survey.

A surprising 54 percent of teenagers aged 13 to 17 say they “spend too much time their cellphone,” according to the Pew Research Center, which announced the results this week.

Some 52 percent say they have tried to cut back on their mobile phone use. And 57 percent of teens have tried to limit their use of social media, while 58 percent have tried to check their video game use, according to Pew.


And about nine-in-ten believe spending too much time online is a problem and 60 percent say it is a major problem, the survey said.

But the research also reveals why this may be a losing cause. A whopping 72 percent say they “often or sometimes” check for messages or notifications when they wake up. More worrisome is, 56 percent of teens said that at least one of the three emotions of “loneliness, being upset or feeling anxious” is triggered when they don’t have their phone, Pew said.

The survey also said that there is a disconnect between “teens’ views of how much time they spend on various screens and whether or not they have tried to limit their time on those devices.” For example, 53 percent of those who say they spend too much time on their phone have ever cut back.

“Teen life is suffused with technology. The vast majority of teens in the United States have access to a smartphone, and 45% are online on a near constant basis,” Pew said in a statement.

Parents don’t fare that well either. Half of teens say one of their parents becomes distracted when that parent is using their own phone “at least sometimes” during conversations between the parent and the teen.

The survey involved interviews with 743 teens and with 1,058 parents who belong to the NORC AmeriSpeak panel. Interviews were conducted online and by telephone from March 7 to April 10, 2018, Pew said.


Incipient movement to discourage overuse

This is happening against a growing movement to address device addiction – for both young people and adults.

Earlier this summer, Apple unveiled new a feature called “Screen Time” in its upcoming iOS 12 mobile software that aims to control chronic iPhone use by monitoring how much time you spend in certain applications, particularly social media like Facebook.

The feature will show you often you're picking up your phone and which apps are bombarding you with notifications.

And Google announced similar technology in May for its upcoming Android P software for phones.

Startups have even popped up that try to prevent use in certain venues. Yondr, for example, has developed technology to create “phone-free spaces.”