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May 31, 2019, 10:34 a.m. EDT

Parents are just as addicted to their smartphones as their kids

Teenagers learn their dependence on gadgets at home

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By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch


iStockphoto
Children learn good and bad habits from their parents.

Swipe as I do, not as I say.

That could be the mantra of parents who teach their children how much time to spend on their iPhones /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +1.19% , Androids, tablets, computers and watching television.

More than one-third of teenagers and over one-quarter of parents wake up and check their mobile device for something other than the time at least once a night, according to a new report by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based organization that examines the impact of technology and media on families. The organization surveyed 1,000 parents and their children.

‘There is no respite from the glow of the screen and the day’s stress and social pressures.’

–James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media

“There is no respite from the glow of the screen and the day’s stress and social pressures,” Common Sense Media CEO and founder James Steyer said in a statement. Parents and kids said mobile devices were affecting family life, said their families sometimes fought over mobile devices, and reported that mobile devices were encroaching into mealtimes.

“With studies linking poor sleep to a number of mental and physical health problems, as well as diminished academic and cognitive performance,” Steyer added, “I urge parents to consider these findings as a wake-up call that device use might truly impact the health of their children and themselves.”

Recommended: How your iPhone could save your life

Here are some key takeaways:

• 39% of teenagers wish their parents would get off their device, up from 28% in 2016.

• 45% of parents say they feel addicted to their mobile device, up from 27% in 2016.

• 38% of teens feel their parent is addicted to their mobile device, up from 28% in 2016.

• 52% of parents say they spend too much time on their devices up from 29% in 2016.

Most parents (55%) and children (72%) in the survey say that the use of mobile devices has had no impact on their relationships with each other, but almost one-third of parents think that their child’s use of a mobile device has hurt their relationship with their child (28%).

And all of that swiping is expensive: iPhone users spend nearly $33 per transaction on their iPhones versus just over $11.50 spent by mobile shoppers with their Android phone, according to a E-Commerce Benchmark KPI study .

Read: 5 apps for spying on your spouse

It’s hard to get kids not to do something if their parents do it all the time. Role-modeling is a great start to promoting a healthy digital lifestyle, and parents can help establish good habits through family rituals like device-free dinners and media activities that strengthen relationships, experts say.

Of course, smartphones have their uses. Children use social media to connect with friends and develop their identities, Yalda Uhls, a Los Angeles-based child psychologist and author of “Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact Not Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age.”

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Quentin Fottrell is a news editor and The Moneyologist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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