Pew: Concerned Parents Seek Rx For Appropriate Screen Time

(Image credit: Pew Research Center)

Parents are worried about their kids' screen time, according to a new Pew Research poll, and a majority have gone so far as to get advice from the medical community about it. 

That was even before the pandemic's stay-at-home orders turned the nation into a binge-watch-from-home cohort. 

And the Apple iPhone doesn't fall far from the tree. More than half of respondents with a minor child said they themselves spend too much time on their smartphones and 68% said they are sometimes distracted by those phones when spending time with their kids. 

A majority (71%) of parents of said they are concerned that their kids might spend too much time in front of video screens, and 31% are very concerned. But they are also doing something about it. The vast majority of parents of kids 5-11 (86%) said they limit screen time--time of day, length of time used, while 80% said they impose digital "grounding" as punishment. A strong majority (75%) said they check the websites their child visits or mobile apps they use and 72% said they use some kind of screen controls. 

And when they do check the websites, YouTube is likely to be on the screen. The survey found that 80% of parents of young kids said their children watch YouTube videos and half of the parents said their kids watch those videos daily. 

The majority (61%) of parents with a child 11 years old or younger said they have gotten advice or information about screen time from a doctor or other health professional and 45% said they have talked to a teacher about it. 

The survey was conducted March 2-15 among 3.654 parents with at least one child age 17 or younger. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. 

Parents clearly have concerns about screen time on smartphones. The survey found that 71% with kids under 12 said they think using smartphones will hurt their ability to learn effective social skills and 68% said they think it will hurt their ability to develop "healthy" friendships.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.