Media Moms and Digital Dads


You can’t walk down the street without seeing people’s faces in a screen. Whether it is a phone, tablet, or computer, we have it and we are watching it. Teenagers spend a quarter of their day in front of a screen. That fact isn’t a surprising one. Especially since the younger generation was practically born with a phone in their hands.

Millennials are the ones always on their phones. The problem is with the Millennials but the better question is where did they learn it from? Where does anyone learn anything? Their parents.

Parents have been found to spend just as much time in front of a screen as their children, according to Common Sense Media. “If you think about it, that’s more time than you spend sleeping… or anything you do,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that helps families navigate media and technology.

Steyer, who is a father of four, was stunned by the time spent on screens. He expected it to be about four hours tops but the disconnect became apparent. 78% of the parents surveyed believed that they were good media role models for their children. It really isn’t a sense of “do as I say, not as I do” but more of parents being unaware of their effect.

“It shows the ubiquity of technology and media. It shows we aren’t always aware of how our own behavior influences our children. It’s a wake-up call.”

Our parents form who we become from a very early age and technology and media habits are included. Studies have shown that most babies start interacting with digital media as early as 4 months. Even most 2 years old use a mobile device on a daily basis. You may ask, what 2 year old has a mobile device? They don’t, their parents do.

These habits that have been created and instilled by their parents are continuing within their children’s lives. Teens are spending all this time on their phones but they are only spending 3% on content creating such as writing, art and music making, or coding. You would assume that most of the time would be spent on social media but that isn’t the case either.

Only 36% of teens enjoyed using social media “a lot,” 45% enjoyed watching TV and 73% enjoyed listening to music. Teens enjoy listening to music more because it gives them the opportunity to multitask, especially during homework time. Teens also like watching TV, using social media and texting while doing homework but it does make it a little harder.

Even some children worry about their parents’ media us. 70% of children worry about their parents’ phone or tablet use and their inability to pay attention to them. One in five British children say that their parents don’t listen to them properly; they are too busy on their emails.

It is an issue. Parents can not set a double standard. When you tell your kids to put away their phones and focus on their school work, you should put away your phone when you are talking to your children.

“This is such a big issue in our lives… ” says Steyer, “and we are the issue, parents are the issue, and we have to model behavior. And kids won’t change unless we change.”

Media Moms and Digital Dads

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