Worried “tech dependency” worries could be exaggerated, study finds
Parents, relax if your kids are spending more time on different screens. New research claims that parental restrictions on the use of technology have little lasting effect into adulthood, and fears of widespread and enduring technological dependence may be overblown.
The study is among the first to examine how the use of digital technology is changing from infancy to adulthood in the age of the mobile internet.
The data was collected before the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a dramatic increase in the use of technology as millions of students were forced to attend school and socialize online.
But the study’s authors said the results should reassure parents worried about all the extra screen time.
“Do a lot of people get tech addicts as teenagers and stay addicted to adulthood? The answer to our research is ‘no’,” said lead author Stefanie Mollborn, professor of sociology at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. in the USA. “We have found that there is only a weak relationship between the early use of technology and the later use of technology, and what we do as parents matters less than most. we don’t think so “.
Published in Advances in Life Course Research, the article is part of a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to explore how the mobile internet age is really shaping American youth.
Even before the pandemic, teens were spending 33 hours a week using digital technology outside of school.
For the latest study, the research team shed light on young adults between the ages of 18 and 30. The researchers also analyzed survey data from a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,200 participants, following the same people from adolescence to young adulthood.
Surprisingly, parenting practices such as setting time limits or prohibiting children from watching shows during meals had no effect on the study subjects’ use of the technology as young adults.
“This research addresses the moral panic about technology that we see so often,” said Joshua Goode, sociology doctoral student and co-author of the article.
“Many of these fears were anecdotal, but now that we have the data, they no longer hold true.” From the dawn of comics and silent films to the birth of radio and television, technological innovation has sown moral panic among older generations. .
“We see that everyone is drawn to this, we are afraid and we assume that it is going to ruin the youth of today,” Mollborn said.
In some cases, the excess can have drawbacks. For example, researchers have found that teens who play video games a lot tend to be less physically active.
But the use of digital technology doesn’t seem to crowd out teen sleep, as some had feared, and the use of social media or online videos doesn’t prevent exercise.
In many ways, “today’s teens are simply trading one form of technology for another, streaming on YouTube instead of watching TV or texting instead of talking on the phone.”
“This doesn’t mean that no one ever gets addicted, or that parents should never set limits or tell their children about its pros and cons,” Mollborn said.
“What this data suggests is that the majority of teens don’t become irrevocably addicted to tech. It’s a message of hope.”
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