How much time do kids spend on devices – playing games, watching videos, texting and using the phone?
Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to [email protected].
How many hours does the average American spend on devices each year? – Maxwell P., age 10
Think about your favorite devices – your smartphone, laptop, tablet, computer or console – the things you use to play cool games, watch hilarious videos and connect and chat with friends.
Many young people spend a lot of free time looking at them. Turns out that teens spend an average of 8½ hours on screens per day, and tweens – that’s ages 8 to 12 – are not far behind, at 5½ hours daily.
What’s more, much of the time taken up by social media and texting is apparently not even enjoyable, much less productive. A 2017 study of teens ages 13 to 18 suggests they spend most of those hours on the phone in their bedroom, alone and distressed.
Our team of psychiatrists who treat young people with digital addiction have many patients who spend over 40 hours per week on screens – and some, up to 80 hours.
Think about it: If you spend “just” an average of 50 hours per week on devices from ages 13 to 18 – the total time you will spend on screens equates to more than 12 years of school!
Find the right balance
All this is not to say that everything about devices is bad. In this digital age, people embark on exciting journeys through the screens of their devices. Sometimes, screens are the windows to a magical adventure.
But too much screen time can lead to problems. As human beings, we function best when we’re in a state of balance. That happens when we eat well, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
But spending too much time using digital devices can cause changes in the way you think and behave. Many teens and tweens developed the “fear of missing out” – known as FOMO. And one study shows some people develop nomophobia, which is the fear of being without your phone, or feeling anxious when you can’t use it.