Report Examines the Dark Side of Being Constantly Connected

While advocates call for schools to embrace 24/7 learning and bridge the digital divide, Common Sense Media is asking what happens when kids get to the other side? In a new white paper, Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance, the authors review  a Common Sense Media poll of teenagers and their parents as well as studies and reports about teens and digital culture. While individuals’ definitions of addiction is unclear, the authors found that one out of every two teens feels addicted to their mobile device, and their parents agree. More important, media multi-tasking can cause distraction and fatigue, making it difficult for teens to focus on any one task.

"Mobile devices are fundamentally changing how families go about day-to-day lives, be it doing homework, driving, or having dinner together," said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, in a press release. "What we've discovered is that kids and parents feel addicted to their mobile devices, that it is causing daily conflict in homes, and that families are concerned about the consequences. We also know that problematic media use can negatively affect children's development and that multitasking can harm learning and performance. As a society we all have a responsibility to take media use and addiction seriously and make sure parents have the information to help them make smart choices for their families."

Additional findings

  • Internet addiction is potentially serious and needs clarification and additional study for people to understand the impact on children’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.
  • Problematic media use may be related to lower empathy and social well-being.
  • Technology may facilitate new ways of expressing typical adolescent developmental needs, such as the need for connection and validation from peer groups.

The report also acknowledges the power of technology to help students collaborate and encourage their creativity and calls on media producers and others to further investigate the impact of increased digital consumption on adolescents. The goal is to understand the concerns and warning signs and help children from an early age be thoughtful about their technology use.

Read Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance, Common Sense Media (2016)

Digital Issues