Technology

Parents Not Worried About Children's Media Use

Fearmongering fails, huzzah!

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With seemingly every kid in America glued most waking hours to a glowing digital device, you might expect their parents to be worried about the potentially harmful effects of all that screen time.

Turns out, not so much.

The majority of parents in the United States are largely unconcerned about their young children's media use, according to a Northwestern University study released Tuesday. This despite 70% of parents saying that smartphones and tablets—so-called "digital babysitters" used to appease bored or fussy kids—don't make parenting any easier.

Based on a nationally representative survey of more than 2,300 parents of children up to 8 years old, the study "reveals a generational shift in parental attitudes about technology's role in young children's lives," said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern's Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

An overwhelming majority (78%) of parents say their children's media use is not a source of family conflict, while 59% say they are not worried about their children becoming addicted to phones, tablet computers or gaming devices. The study found that 55% of parents are "not too" or "not at all" concerned about their children's media use, compared to 30% who are concerned.