Report: Teens Can Benefit from Heavy Use of Cellphone and Social Media
Duke University researchers release report
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Worried that your teen is using the cell phone and social media too much? Surprise! A new report from Duke University researchers find that parents’ fears may be unfounded, with some important exceptions.
“Each generation worries about how young people are using their time,” says Candice Odgers, associate professor in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. “We see young people constantly on their phones and assume ill effects, but much of the research to date tells a more positive story.”
The researchers found that teens’ online worlds mirror their offline lives, and cellphone use alone poses few new dangers. They found that teens with strong relationships offline tended to cement those friendships online. Most adolescents use digital media to connect with friends and acquaintances already in their face-to-face networks.
And for parents who worry that the cellphone is detracting from their parent-child relationships, here’s more good news. The authors found that although cellphones can pull children away from spending time with parents, they can also be used for more frequent, positive parent-child contact.
But if you’re worried about your adolescents’ relationships, take note. Researchers found that the well-being of teens who struggle with relationships in the “real” world can be hurt by spending more time online. And children who have been bullied online or in the “real” world are also vulnerable if they spend too much time online, where bullying is commonplace. Parents’ concerns that kids are losing sleep by being on the cellphone turned out to be right. The authors found those teens who used their cellphones after lights were out were twice as likely to report being tired the next day as those who did not.