About half of teenagers in the United States and in Japan say they can’t put their devices down. Teens say they are addicted and that their devices cause the greatest conflict between them and parents, according to research at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism in Los Angeles.
“Nowadays, one of the worst things that can happen to us is, like, ‘Oh, I left my phone at home,’” said Alissa Caldwell, a student at the American School in Japan. The study, “The New Normal: Parents, Teens and Digital Devices,” polled 1,200 Americans and 1,200 Japanese and was released at the USC Global Conference 2017 in Tokyo.
Their parents agree. A majority of Japanese and American parents said their teenagers used mobile devices too much. About 60 percent of both American and Japanese parents said they believe their children are addicted. But parents shouldn’t get too comfortable: More than 1 in 3 Japanese parents said they also feel addicted to mobile devices, compared to about 1 in 4 American parents.
Many respond immediately to messages
About 7 in 10 American teens said they felt the need to respond immediately to mobile messages, compared to about half of Japanese teens. In Japan, 48 percent of teens and 38 percent of parents say they look at and use their devices at least hourly. In the United States, 78 percent of teens and 69 percent of parents say they use their devices every hour.
At least that hourly usage stops when people are asleep, researchers said. American parents and teens fight over devices more than families in Japan, research showed. One in three U.S. families reported having an argument every day about mobile device use. Only about 1 in 6 Japanese families say they fight every day over mobile devices. But 20 percent of Japanese teens said they sometimes feel that their parents think their mobile device is more important than they are.
Only 6 percent of American teens feel their parents like their phones more than them. But 15 percent of American parents say their teens’ use of mobile devices hurts their relationship. By comparison, 11 percent of teens felt the same way. The research was based on April interviews with 600 Japanese parents and 600 Japanese teenagers. Opinions from American parents and teenagers were collected in research done earlier by Common Sense Media.
“Advances in digital media and mobile devices are changing the way we engage not only with the world around us, but also with the people who are the closest to us,” said Willow Bay, Annenberg’s dean, which to some families might seem like a bit of an understatement.