Tech Habits of American Families

How does yours compare?


Published:

Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Not long ago, a search engine company called ReportLinker surveyed 670 families with children under age 15 to better understand the relationship between American kids and their devices. The results provide snapshots of how technology has been integrated into American families. In many ways, parents are following recommendations from experts and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. In a few key areas, however, parents seem to be ignoring best practices and following the path of least resistance.

To get an idea of where your family falls, answer the following questions and compare your family’s tech habits to those of other families and recommendations from the AAP.

How many screens do you have at home? Counting TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones and game consoles, the average number of screens per family is 7.3. Most households own a TV (94 percent), and about half have a video game console. 

Just over three-fourths of the families surveyed have at least one smartphone in the household, and 62 percent of parents said their kids spend three to five hours a day using a smartphone. Researchers also noted that among families with kids under age 10, tablets are very popular — 58 percent of children under age 5 use them.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic is about technology in bedrooms. The AAP recommends that bedrooms be device-free and children “avoid exposure to devices or screens for one hour before bedtime.” Despite that advice, about two-thirds of  families with five or more devices allow kids to have one in the bedroom, and those kids are more likely to use devices before they sleep.

How many hours per day do your kids interact with technology? Half the parents surveyed said they limit “plug-in” time to less than two hours a day, but that rule is more likely enforced in families that have fewer devices and keep them out of bedrooms.

The AAP recently revised its guidelines to say that “parents must develop personalized media use plans” based on each child’s age, health, temperament and developmental stage, and that technology doesn’t squeeze out other healthy activities, including sleep, physical play and time away from media.

When do your kids use technology? More than 80 percent of families said kids use devices during their spare time. Only 6 percent allow them to be used at mealtime. That’s consistent with the AAP recommendation that mealtimes be media-free.

Is technology a positive or negative influence on your kids? Experts continue to debate whether technology is changing childhood, but half of parents surveyed said they think technology creates more benefits than risks, and 25 percent believe being comfortable with technology is essential for kids. For the 25 percent who reported that they feel technology has a negative impact on children, 11 percent believe technology creates more risks than benefits and 14 percent feel technology “ruins the essence of childhood.”

Do your children manage their own tech time? Fifty-eight percent of parents believe their kids can manage their own time on electronic devices. In the households where children use screens more than five hours a day, 43 percent of parents think kids are doing a good job of time management. On the other hand, if you sometimes find it difficult to manage screen time, you’re not alone — 42 percent of parents admitted they feel the same way.

What are the main disadvantages of using tech devices? Twenty percent of parents couldn’t think of any disadvantages. One-third said they worry that technology keeps children from more traditional childhood activities such as playing, going outside or reading; and 31 percent were concerned that time with devices makes kids more isolated and less social. Only 10 percent said they worry about kids being less creative and 4 percent are concerned about increased aggression. To those concerns, AAP adds sleep disruption, the risk of obesity because of too much sedentary time and problematic internet use, including online bullying.

What are the main advantages? When asked about benefits of technology, parents were clear: 40 percent feel technology promotes cognitive development and school readiness. About one-fourth agree that technology expands a child’s horizons, and another quarter thought access to devices makes kids more savvy about using technology of all kinds. Only 7 percent admitted using tech gadgets to amuse kids so they could do something else. AAP guidelines also note the social benefits of devices, including the opportunity to interact with distant friends and family members.

 How often do you know what content your kids are watching? Even though parents vary a lot in how much access they give kids to technology, they agree with the AAP on one thing — it’s important to monitor what kids are consuming. About 83 percent say they keep an eye on what kids watch, and 71 percent claim to have activated parental controls. 

Of course, one survey isn’t definitive, but it does reveal places where parents are on the right track — and where improvement is possible. In the end, every family has to devise a device policy that works for them. To help, the AAP offers an interactive tool called Create Your Family Media Plan. Find it by searching for for “Media Plan” at healthychildren.org.


Carolyn Jabs is author of the award-winning book, “Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart,” available at Amazon and cooperativewisdom.org.

 

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Calendar

June 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Dads play free mini golf with each paying player at regular price.

Cost: $7.99/person

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Adventure Landing
3311 Capital Blvd.
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Sponsor: Adventure Landing
Telephone: 191-987-21688
Contact Name: Mike Collins
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Cost: Free. Food available for purchase.

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Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: $1.00 per person

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: $20 per session

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Art Therapy Institute of NC
200 N Greensboro St. Suite D-6 (2nd Floor Carr Mill Mall)
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Cost: Free

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Compass Center for Women and Families
210 Henderson Street
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Compass Center for Women and Families
Telephone: 919-968-4610
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Barnes & Noble
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Budding naturalists ages 2-6 enjoy a craft, engaging activity, and guided walk along the greenway. Register online. Choose course #219939.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Cost: Free

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Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
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Cost: Free

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Raleigh National Cemetery
501 Rock Quarry Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 1-530-515-3825

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: $10

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Center for Excellence
3803B Computer Drive, Suite 106B
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Telephone: 919-612-4608
Contact Name: Tracy
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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty suncatcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
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Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219870.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Cost: Free

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Raleigh State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: Free

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Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: Free

Where:
Open Table United Methodist Church
824 N. Bloodworth Street
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Open Table UMC
Telephone: 919-561-2637
Contact Name: Andrea Chapman
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See the remake of Jeghetto’s hit puppet show co-written by Pierce Freelon of The Beast. This show was awarded two grants from the Henson Foundation. This Afrofuturistic puppet show,...

Cost: $15/person

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main Street
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 191-992-92787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
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Cost: See website for fees

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
2116-D New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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The summer heat is back, and so are the insects! Join us in the Finley Center exhibit hall to do some fun insect-themed crafts. We will make butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and other insect...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Get the real scoop on turtles, how they “earn a living," and hear a story. Ages 5 and older. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Transform a plastic storage box into a worm bin suitable for indoor use. Materials provided. Suggested for ages 6 and older. Register online by June 17. Choose course #220017.

Cost: $45/family for City of Raleigh residents; $60 for non-residents

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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More information

After a shaded walk out to the creek entrance, take nets into the water to see some of these creek critters up close. Discuss some of the reasons it’s so important to keep these aquatic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
6001 Turkey Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Triangle Land Conservancy
Telephone: 191-990-80054
Contact Name: Molly Richard
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

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Enjoy Little Golden Books' "Jurassic Park." This action-packed and age-appropriate title is great for dinosaur lovers, both new and old. Activities to follow. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Read stories together and enjoy an arts and crafts activity based on the books.

Cost: $5

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Read With Me
111 E. Hargett St., #110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

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Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $17.25

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Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian Drive
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Sarah Tondu
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Cost: $17.25/person

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Durham Performing Arts Center
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Cost: $15/person. Free for ages 12 and younger

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677 NC Hwy 98 East
Bunn, NC  27508
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Telephone: 919-496-3076
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

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City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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