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The Latest on Kids and Screens



Parenting is no easy task in today's culture.


According to Pew Research, 75% of parents in the U.S. say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing technologies - like smartphones or social media - as a big reason why.


A big point of debate is how much screen time kids should be allowed to view each day.

While a majority of parents with a young child say they are very (39%) or somewhat confident (45%) in knowing the appropriate amount of screen time for their child, they are also seeking out advice from others.


Some 61% of parents of a child age 11 or younger say they have received advice or information about screen time from a doctor or other medical professional and 55% say the same about other parents, while 45% of parents of a child age 5 to 11 have turned to teachers for help.


The concerns come at a time when it's a common thing for children to engage with digital devices.

  • 80% of parents say their child age 5 to 11 uses or interacts with a tablet computer.

  • 63% of parents say the same about smartphones.


YouTube has become a big part of screen time.

  • 1 billion hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day.

  • The platform has over 2 billion users.

  • 80% of all parents with a child age 11 or younger say their child watches videos on YouTube.

  • 53% say that their child does this daily.

  • 35% say this happens several times a day.

  • 89% of parents of a child ages 5 to 11 say their child watches videos on YouTube.

  • 81% of parents of a child ages 3 to 4 say their child watches videos on YouTube.

  • 57% of parents of a child ages 2 and under say their child watches videos on YouTube.

  • 97% of parents say YouTube keeps their children entertained.

  • 88% believe it helps them learn new things.

  • 75% say it exposes their child to different cultures.

There are several reasons that parents say it's harder to parent than in the past.

  • The impact of digital technology (26%).

  • The rise of social media (21%).

  • How access to technology exposes children to things at a young age (14%).

  • Other commonly cited reasons for parenting growing more difficult include changing morals and values and the costs associated with raising a child.


When should children be allowed to have their own smartphone? Most parents believe the ages of 12 to 14 is an acceptable age.


When should children be allowed to have a tablet like an iPad? Parents are more accepting of children having one at a younger age. 65% of parents say it is acceptable for children to have a tablet before the age of 12.

Parents are concerned about the impact that smartphones could have on children’s interpersonal skills.


71% of parents say the use of smartphones by children age 11 or younger will hurt their ability to learn effective social skills a lot or a little, while a similar share says the same about developing healthy friendships.


Just over half of parents think these devices will hurt children’s ability to do well in school, while parents are more evenly split when it comes to how smartphones will impact children’s ability to be creative or pursue their hobbies and interests.


Many parents limit how long their child can use screens. They also use "digital grounding" when needed.


  • 86% limit the time of day or length of time.

  • 80% take away their child's access to technology for punishment.

  • 75% check out their child's websites and viewing habits.

  • 72% use parental controls to restrict online viewing when needed.

  • 49% check their child's text messages or call records.

  • 33% track their child's location through GPS apps.

  • 28% follow their child through a friend request or social media access.


Distracted parenting.


Many parents admit that there own phones can led to distracted parenting.

  • 56% of parents say they spend too much time on their own smartphone.

  • 68% say they sometimes feel distracted by their phone when spending time with their kids.

  • 36% say they spend too much time on social media.

  • 11% say they spend too much time playing video games.

What devices are kids engaging with?

  • television

  • tablet

  • smartphone

  • desktop or laptop

  • gaming device


Over a third of parents with a child under the age of 12 say their child began interacting with a smart phone by the age of 5.

20% of parents with a child younger than 12 say their child has their own smartphone.

Here are the big reasons most parents say their child has a smartphone.


  • 78% - makes it easier for their child to contact them.

  • 73% - easier to get hold of my child.

  • 25% - something to keep them entertainer.

  • 9% - to do home work.

  • 6% - because their friends have one.


While digital connectivity offers children new ways to learn and connect, there are still widespread concerns that the internet and mobile devices give children easy access to inappropriate content and leave youth vulnerable to overuse and even bullying. Parents are especially concerned about the negative impact that smartphones may have on children, including how these devices could hinder their ability to develop interpersonal skills. 70% of parents think smartphones bring more harm than good. 71% believe the potential harm outweighs the potential benefits.

  • 71% believe it hinders kids from learning effective social skills.

  • 68% believe it helps kids develop healthy friendships.

  • 54 % believe it helps their child do well in school.

  • 46% believe it hinders their child's creativity.

  • 45% believe it hinders their hobbies and interests.

Protecting children online. 98% of parents say they have the responsibility in protecting their children from inappropriate online content. The majority of parents say they know what their child is watching, playing or doing online.

How much screen time is appropriate? 84% of parents say they are somewhat or very confident they know how much time is appropriate. 86% of parents say they limit the time of day or length of time their child can use screens.

84% say it's okay for a child to use a mobile device while riding as a passenger in the car. Significantly less say that children should be using a mobile device during meal time. Only 37% are okay with kids using a device just before bedtime. Only 37% say it's okay while eating out. The majority of parents are at least somewhat concerned about their child spending too much time in front of screens.

Fully 71% of parents of a child under the age of 12 say they are very or somewhat concerned about their child ever spending too much time in front of screens, including about one-third (31%) who say they are very concerned about this.

At the same time, roughly six-in-ten parents say they are at least somewhat concerned about their child in this age range ever being the target of online predators (63%), accessing sexually explicit content (60%) and accessing violent content online (59%). Somewhat similar shares (56%) report they are very or somewhat concerned that their child might ever be bullied or harassed online.


Distracted parenting.


Many parents with kids age 5 to 11 express more concern when compared with parents of a child age 4 or younger. For example, 66% of parents of a child age 5 to 11 say they are at least somewhat concerned about their child ever accessing sexually explicit content online, compared with about half of parents (52%) of a child age 4 or younger who say the same. This is also true when parents are asked about their concern about their child spending too much time in front of screens, being the target of online predators, accessing violent online content and being bullied or harassed online.


What devices are kids engaging with?

  • television

  • tablet

  • smartphone

  • desktop or laptop

  • gaming device


Over a third of parents with a child under the age of 12 say their child began interacting with a smart phone by the age of 5. 20% of parents with a child younger than 12 say their child has their own smartphone.

Here are the big reasons most parents say their child has a smartphone.

  • 78% - makes it easier for their child to contact them.

  • 73% - easier to get hold of my child.

  • 25% - something to keep them entertainer.

  • 9% - to do home work.

  • 6% - because their friends have one.


While digital connectivity offers children new ways to learn and connect, there are still widespread concerns that the internet and mobile devices give children easy access to inappropriate content and leave youth vulnerable to overuse and even bullying. Parents are especially concerned about the negative impact that smartphones may have on children, including how these devices could hinder their ability to develop interpersonal skills. 70% of parents think smartphones bring more harm than good. 71% believe the potential harm outweighs the potential benefits.

  • 71% believe it hinders kids from learning effective social skills.

  • 68% believe it helps kids develop healthy friendships.

  • 54 % believe it helps their child do well in school.

  • 46% believe it hinders their child's creativity.

  • 45% believe it hinders their hobbies and interests.

Protecting children online. 98% of parents say they have the responsibility in protecting their children from inappropriate online content. The majority of parents say they know what their child is watching, playing or doing online. How much screen time is appropriate? 84% of parents say they are somewhat or very confident they know how much time is appropriate. 86% of parents say they limit the time of day or length of time their child can use screens.

84% say it's okay for a child to use a mobile device while riding as a passenger in the car. Significantly less say that children should be using a mobile device during meal time. Only 37% are okay with kids using a device just before bedtime. Only 37% say it's okay while eating out. The majority of parents are at least somewhat concerned about their child spending too much time in front of screens.

Fully 71% of parents of a child under the age of 12 say they are very or somewhat concerned about their child ever spending too much time in front of screens, including about one-third (31%) who say they are very concerned about this.

At the same time, roughly six-in-ten parents say they are at least somewhat concerned about their child in this age range ever being the target of online predators (63%), accessing sexually explicit content (60%) and accessing violent content online (59%). Somewhat similar shares (56%) report they are very or somewhat concerned that their child might ever be bullied or harassed online.

Parents of a child age 5 to 11 express more concern when compared with parents of a child age 4 or younger. For example, 66% of parents of a child age 5 to 11 say they are at least somewhat concerned about their child ever accessing sexually explicit content online, compared with about half of parents (52%) of a child age 4 or younger who say the same. This is also true when parents are asked about their concern about their child spending too much time in front of screens, being the target of online predators, accessing violent online content and being bullied or harassed online.

Kids are addicted. They don’t go outside, they don’t hang out with friends, they are getting overweight due to lack of exercise and poor diet.

– Man, age 46 I think that social media is harmful to kids and their self-concepts and self-images. It’s difficult to combat the messages that [they] are getting ALL THE TIME from the outside world. Being a teen is more difficult than it was even 10 years ago, and much more difficult than it was 30 years ago. Parenting through all of the obstacles is really challenging. – Woman, age 51 While the internet can be wonderful, it also makes inappropriate material far too accessible for children and also makes them vulnerable to predators. Parents must stay engaged with technology to monitor use in efforts to protect children more than previous generations. – Woman, age 37


We live in a day when children face things that we never faced as a child. Let's pray for parents and church leaders as they help kids and parents navigate through these challenges.

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