American teens have a complicated and sometimes conflicting relationship with smartphones, just like the rest of us. A new Pew Research study shows that the children try to negotiate between worry because they spend too much time on their phones and anxiety when separated from their devices.
The study, released Wednesday, showed that 54 percent of American teenagers aged 13 to 17 worry about spending too much time on their phones, 52 percent have taken steps to cut phone usage and 57 percent have tried to spend less time on social media. But the effort to cut does not necessarily make teens happier: 56 percent of the teens associate being away from their phones with the feeling anxious, lonely or upset.
In addition, Pew found that teenagers who worry about excessive screening time are not more likely to change their behavior. Among those who say that they spend too much time on the phones, 53 percent have reduced mobile usage. It's not far from 55 percent of teens who have cut themselves, despite the feeling that they spend too little time on their mobile device.
What does it mean that about half of the teens have tried to get away from their phones? Pew has not previously asked teenagers, so it's hard to measure, says senior researcher Monica Anderson. An indicator may be how teenagers see their peers: More than nine out of 1
] Anderson says that the same link between fear and action is evident in Pew's privacy surveys, where adults who say they are concerned about monitoring and losing control of their data do not necessarily change their usual habits.
The study is coming to the forefront of the harmful effects of "technical addiction", especially among young people. Critics blame unscrupulous and unmanaged leaders of technical platforms to make it difficult to put down the device. Industry insiders like Tristan Harris, a former Google designer, have highlighted manipulative software designs that trigger intermittent hits of dopamine to keep users glued on their screens.
In fact, Pew's new report shows that parents struggle with the same impulses over screen time, sometimes with poorer results. Thirty-ninety percent of parents say that they often or often lose focus on the job by checking their cell phone, compared with 31 percent of the teens who reported losing focus in the class for the same reason. In addition, 51 percent of the teens say they often or sometimes find parents or carers being distracted by a mobile phone when they try to have a conversation with them.
Technical giants have kept a close eye on the growing movement to ensure that time spent on social media is "time spent well" and moral panic about the mental and physical customs that smartphone usage can have on the children.
Since March, for example, Facebook has announced a number of initiatives and tools to persuade parents to teenagers, including the ability to set a daily reminder on Facebook and Instagram after reaching a preset deadline. Nevertheless, younger users represent a lucrative profit center, especially as growth is low on large online platforms. An internal Facebook note from BuzzFeed News shows the strategies the companies can distribute to keep the kids engaged, if they choose it. In the memorandum, the founder of TBH, a viral polling app that Facebook bought in October in October because of its popularity with teens, the "psychological tricks" outline he employed in upper secondary education.
But teenagers can eventually be tired of being fooled. In July, Facebook stopped TBH due to low usage.
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