Does Your Child Spend Too Much Time With Digital Devices?

Credit: MGN Online

Does Your Child Spend Too Much Time With Digital Devices?

June 4, 2013 Updated Jun 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM EDT

Do you have kids who spend a considerable amount of time using digital devices such as TVs, computers and tablets?

Are you concerned about the amount of time they spend on such devices?

If your answer is "no" you aren't alone.

According to a study by researchers at Northwestern University that was released this week, the majority of parents are largely unconcerned about the media use of their young children.

“Today’s parents grew up with technology as a central part of their lives, so they think about it differently than earlier generations of parents,” said Ellen Wartella, the report's lead author. “Instead of a battle with kids on one side and parents on the other, the use of media and technology has become a family affair.”

Among the key findings of the study, according to a news release from Northwestern University:

    An overwhelming majority (78 percent) of parents say their children’s media use is not a source of family conflict; 59 percent say they are not worried about their children becoming addicted to new media; and 55 percent say they are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about their children’s media use (compared to 30 percent who are concerned).

    Despite the widespread use of mobile media, the vast majority (70 percent) of parents say smartphones and tablets do not make parenting any easier; 29 percent claim they do.

    Parents say they are most likely to turn to toys or activities (88 percent), books (79 percent), or TV (78 percent) when trying to keep their children occupied. Of those with smartphones or iPads, 37 percent say they are very or somewhat likely to turn to those devices.

    Even when trying to calm an upset child, parents say they are still more likely to turn to a toy or activity (65 percent) or to a book (58 percent) than to media; of those who have them, only 17 percent say the same about letting the child play with a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.

    With the exception of video games, parents think more positively than negatively about the impact of media (including TV, computers and mobile devices) on children’s reading and math skills, and their creativity.

    Parents’ most consistent concern about new and old media alike is their negative impact on children’s physical activity. Sixty-one percent of parents say video games have mainly a negative effect on their children’s physical activity, and similar proportions say the same about TV (58 percent), computers (57 percent) and mobile devices (54 percent).

    Parents view video games more negatively than TV, computers or mobile devices. Parents rated video games as more likely to have a negative effect on children’s academic skills, attention span, creativity, social skills, behavior and sleep than any other medium.

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