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25 September 2017

Teens and Parents in Japan and US Agree - Mobile Devices Are an Ever-Present Distraction

Parents and teens in the high-tech societies of Japan and the U.S. find it hard to imagine life without mobile phones and tablets... A professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication reports that 69% of parents, and 78% of teens check their phones at least hourly, and 27% of parents and 50% of teens feel addicted to their phones.

Teens and parents in Japan and US agree – mobile devices are an ever-present distraction
by Willow Bay, Dean and Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 
theonversation.com, 25 September 2017

How does technology affect family relationships?
Syda Productions/ Shutterstock.com
Family life in Japan. As part of that work, we compared our results from Japan to studies asking similar questions of U.S. families, conducted by our collaborator Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization focusing on children and technology. We found Japanese and U.S. families struggling in very similar ways with the impact of technology on their lives, their relationships and each other.

Parents and teens in both societies use online media for long periods every day, which at times causes family stress and arguments. Some feel addicted to their devices, and many worry about family members’ apparent addictions to technology. And in both countries, there are children who feel their parents neglect them in favor of digital devices.
Shared feelings of anxiety

We polled 1,200 Japanese parents and teens to find out how the saturation of cellphones and other devices in family life is playing out in homes and child-parent relationships. We compared their answers to Common Sense’s existing research on U.S. teens and parents.

The findings are clear: Parents and teens in the high-tech societies of Japan and the U.S. find it hard to imagine life without mobile phones and tablets. And they share similar struggles with the role of technology in their lives: In both countries, the “always-on” media environment leads a great many teens and parents to feel the need to check their devices frequently, often several times an hour.

And large numbers of parents and teens feel the need to “respond immediately” to texts, social networking messages and notifications.

Feelings of distraction

We also took a closer took at how parents and teens perceive their own, and each others’, dependency on mobile phones. In both the U.S. and Japan, the answers were surprisingly consistent: Roughly half of teens reported feeling “addicted” to their mobile devices, and so did more than a quarter of parents.

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