Smartphones leading to “screenager” epidemic

U.S. & World

Some call them “screenagers.”

They’re modern teens who are glued to their screens.

According to Pew Research Center, more than half of those ages 13 to 17 say the thought of going even a short time without their phone gives them anxiety.

“It would be shocking,” one teen told NBC News. “I like to text my friends.” 

The report also showed two-thirds of parents are concerned about their teen’s screen time. Still, many struggle to manage it.

“Don’t just toss ’em the keys and expect them to know how to drive, you cant toss kids into all this, set them free with a smartphone, and expect them to thrive,” said Jennifer Jolly, tech columnist.

Now tech companies are making it easier to see how teens are spending time on their phones. Most smartphones have built-in features. “Screen Time” in the latest  iOS update, and “Digital Well-Being” on Android devices both promise to help.

You can access time-trackers on Instagram and Facebook through settings to see a visual display of social media habits and the option to set limits.

“Take a look at those numbers with them,” Jolly said. “This isn’t about yelling at them. It’s, ‘How do you feel about the time your spending online?'”

More than half of teens surveyed say they think they spend too much time on their cellphones. 52-percent have already tried to take steps to cut back on their use.

Experts say making teens aware of screen time and offering tools to control it could help them take the initiative towards healthier tech habits.

“Bottom line, this is not about arbitrary or “No tech at all” rules,” Jolly said. “In fact that’s the one thing we’ve learned really does not work.”

Instead, cocus on how to make time online about quality, not quantity.

The Google Family Link app also has an update to help monitor your teen’s phone. Parents can also lock a phone through the app, say during dinner time. The locking feature is also available with voice commands through Google Assistant.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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