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Quantity Time Doesn’t Help Our Kids
by Jonathan McKee
4/4/2015

The more time I “hang” with my kids, the better… right?

I guess that depends. Define “hang.”

  • Silently sitting and watching TV together?
  • Dragging our kids on errands with us?
  • Sitting at the dinner table together while Mom and Dad argue about bills?

As much as we’d like to believe that “quantity time” in itself will pay off, a fascinating new study out of the Journal of Marriage and Family contends mere quantity time isn’t enough. In fact, the study reveals the amount of time parents spend with their kids between 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out. Remarkably, the study found “one key instance when parent time can be particularly harmful to children—when parents, mothers in particular, are stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty and anxious.”


Hold the phone! Does this mean we shouldn’t “hang” with our kids?

JONATHAN'S BLOG: Today's Teens and Their Tech
Last week Pew Research’s Amanda Lenhart released their brand new report on Teens, Social Media and Technology, providing us with the newest data on how many kids are actually online, engaging in social media, and using mobile devices.

Any parent or adult who has connection with today’s teens already knows the answer to that question: all of them are!

Well… pretty close.

The report provides a pretty accurate breakdown of what tech teens own and have access to. Here’s a glimpse:

Of today’s American teens, 13-17-year-olds…




  • 73% have smartphones

  • 15% only have a basic mobile phone

  • African American teens are the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to have access to a smartphone, with 85% of them reporting smartphone ownership.

  • 87% have access to a desktop or laptop computer

  • 58% have access to a tablet

  • 81% have access to a game console such as Playstation, Xbox or Wii (91% of boys, 70% of girls) (and Nielsen just released their report on how many stream video and explore the internet from these systems)

  • 91% use the internet on a mobile device

  • 92% report going online daily

  • 56% going online just once a day

  • Just 11% use anonymous apps and sites like Yik Yak or Ask.FM


Do I buy into these numbers?

Short answer—yes.

As a guy who looks at these numbers a lot, the first number I noticed was the 73% of American teens 13-17 owning smartphones. I’m used to Nielson’s numbers, which most recently revealed 80% of 14-17-year-olds owning a smartphone (the numbers grow even bigger for Gen Y). So could that 7% difference be because Pew’s numbers include 13-year-olds? Maybe. But Pew’s numbers often tend to be a little lower than Nielsen’s. Either way, these numbers are close.

Some people also might be taken back when Pew Research claims Facebook is the number one social media platform teens use, with 71% of teens saying they use it. Most of us in contacts with teens have all heard them “trashtalk” Facebook as a stalking-ground for spying parents. We probably see Snapchat and Instagram as being more prominent in teens’ lives today. So is Pew Research wrong here?

I find that today’s teens indeed like Snapchat and Insta better than Facebook, but they haven’t totally disconnected with Facebook yet. Other surveys, such as last year’s Niche survey of the graduating class of 2014 actually uncovered similar findings to Pew Research: Facebook still reigned for the most daily users, but Instagram won as garnering the “most engaged users.” Apps like YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Pandora and Netflix also ranked up there. (If you have trouble keeping up with all these apps and social media platforms, here’s a nice guide from Common Sense Media, or my post on Keeping Social Media Safe, or the nice workbook Doug Fields and I developed for parents, Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone?)

So if your kid says, “Mom, no one is on Facebook anymore.” Don’t argue; just smile and nod. Then, as you engage in frequent media conversations with your kids, observe for yourself. Don’t be surprised if teen “perception” isn’t the same as “reality”. (In fact, Stanford released an interesting study earlier this year revealing the same to be true about peer pressure.)

Regardless, these numbers about teens and their tech reveal that the overwhelming majority of young people today have easy access to mobile tech, the Internet and social media. The questions adults need to ask is… what are they gleaning from all this screen time? (a topic I talked about in detail in this recent TV interview- Part I in the series)

Hmmmmmmm.img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-8836" src="http://www.JonathanMcKeeWrites.com/wp-content/uploads/More-Than-Just-The-Talk-620-220x300.jpg" alt="More-Than-Just-The-Talk-620" width="220" height="300" />

JONATHAN IS THE AUTHOR OF OVER A DOZEN BOOKS ABOUT CONNECTING WITH TEENAGERS LIKE THE BRAND NEW MORE THAN JUST THE TALK, AND SHOULD I JUST SMASH MY KID’S PHONE? BRING JONATHAN TO YOUR CITY TO TEACH A PARENTING WORKSHOP ON THIS SUBJECT!
I WANT TO READ MORE
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Teens, Social Media and Tech-- Pew's brand new report
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