Parents More Concerned About Kids’ Screen Addiction Than Substance Abuse

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Parents More Concerned About Kids’ Screen Addiction Than Substance Abuse

By Movieguide® Contributor

A recent study found that parents are more concerned about their children becoming addicted to technology than struggling with substance abuse.

The study, published on JAMA Network Open, revealed parents’ views on their children’s use of technology. While a majority of parents participating in the study felt their kids could “use the internet responsibly” and felt comfortable “gauging appropriate durations of screen time,” they also expressed concerns about technology’s impact on their children.

Roughly half of all parents shared that they worry about technology’s impact on their children’s social, cognitive and physical development. They also expressed concerns about “access to inappropriate content” and “cyberbullying.”

Over 50% of all participants said they worry about their kids developing an addiction to technology, compared to roughly 40% of parents who worry about substance addiction.

“Our results remind us that no conversation about the impact of internet technologies on our youth is complete without consideration of both the positive and negative impacts, and acknowledgement of how experiences may differ among families,” study author Michael Milham, M.D., Ph.D., told Fox News Digital.

“From a public health perspective, they underscore the need for greater education and support for parents, as many have concerns and are unsure how to promote or restore healthy internet use in their young adolescents,” Millham added.

Previous studies have linked high screen time with depression and anxiety, loneliness and difficulty socializing and having meaningful conversations.

“The finding that parents express greater concern about internet addiction compared to substance addiction highlights growing apprehension about problematic internet use among youth,” Dr. Zachary Ginder, a psychological consultant not associated with the study, told Fox News Digital.

“This awareness is likely a good thing, but more research is needed before concluding that these concerns are definitively warranted or that certain online risks outweigh others,” he added.

Parents with these concerns need to remember that they have incredible influence over their children’s lives, especially through modeling healthy behavior in their own lives. Previous studies have shown that parents who avoid excessively using technology around their kids are able to parent them better.

Movieguide® previously reported:

A recent study linked that when parents use their phone or computer around their kids to unwind it leads to worse parenting.  

Science Direct wrote, “This study examined caregivers’ psychological well-being, digital media use, and parenting practices, with a particular focus on specific aspects of media use.”

The study continued, “Caregivers (n = 549) with at least two children aged 5–18 participated in a multinational project examining family functioning and well-being amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents completed questionnaires assessing their psychological distress, media use habits, and parenting practices.” 

Science Direct concluded that there were “Comparisons of structural regression models revealed that operationalizing caregivers’ media use as a single general construct disregards important nuances in its relations to psychological distress and parenting. In a more detailed model, higher psychological distress was related to more screen time and media use for relaxation. Intrusions of media in interactions with family members and media use for relaxation were associated with lower-quality parenting.”