Kids and Social Media: Raising Free-Range Kids in a Digital Age
Kids and Social Media
Raising Free-Range Kids in a Digital Age
Kids and Social Media
The iPhone came out in 2007,
which marks an entry to digital
usage among kids and
teenagers for the next decade.
A survey of more than
5,000 American teens
found that 75% of teens
owned an iPhone in 2017.
Statista found that
Google Android and Apple
iPhones have taken over
98% of the US market
from April 2017 and
onward for ages 13 and
The igeneration is our only study data
More likely to be called Gen Z, psychologist and researcher,
Jean M. Twenge, calls them iGen or the iGeneration. Born
between 1995 and 2012, these teenagers and children have
used digital technology or social media since adolescence.
Given their large increase in screen time we’ve seen
negative and positive changes. What have we seen?
What do studies of iGen’s tech use spell out for today’s
● It’s stagnant and then
we see a jump ~2012. Is
it because kids had
phones at younger ages
and then we saw delayed
● “Fifty-seven percent
more teens were sleep
deprived in 2015 than
in 1991. In just the
four years from 2012 to
2015, 22 percent more
teens failed to get
seven hours of sleep.”
Hanging out with friends, irl
● Less in-person social
contact with others
● Does that mean reduced
communication in the
● “The number of teens who
get together with their
friends nearly every day
dropped by more than 40
percent from 2000 to
2015; the decline has
been especially steep
Smartphone > driver’s licenses
A positive note: teens are
less likely to be in a car
wreck as a result.
Ever experience this gif or
dread of it?
● Is this because they see
others hanging out on
social media? Yes, it adds
● “Teens who spend more time
than average on screen
activities are more likely
to be unhappy, and those
who spend more time than
average on nonscreen
activities are more likely
to be happy.” - NIDA
"Our study demonstrated that in 18-month-old children, an increase in
30 minutes per day in mobile media device use was associated with a
2.3 times increased risk of parent-reported expressive speech delay
but not an increased risk of other parent-reported communication
delays. Almost a quarter (22.4%) of the 18-month-old children used
mobile media devices on a daily basis, with a median duration of 15.7
minutes per day. Our findings address a gap in the literature on
mobile media device use in 18-month-old children and its association
with communication delays."
Citation: van Den Heuvel, Meta, Julia Ma, Cornelia Borkhoff, Christine Koroshegyi, David
Dai, Patricia Parkin, Jonathon Maguire, and Catherine Birken. “Mobile Media Device Use Is
Associated with Expressive Language Delay in 18-Month-Old Children.” Journal of
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 40, no. 2 (February 1, 2019): 99–104.
Homicide vs suicide
“Teens who spend three hours a day or
more on electronic devices are 35 percent
more likely to have a risk factor for
suicide, such as a suicide plan.” - Jean
“As teens have started spending less time
together, they have become less likely to
kill one another, and more likely to kill
themselves. In 2011, for the first time
in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was
higher than the teen homicide rate” -
Jean M. Twenge
Jean M. Twenge
Correlation doesn’t mean Causation
Yes, these are trends and are
collinear! So are the silly ones to
Is there a causal relationship between
smartphones and kids? In 60 years we
will know. But you have to decide now.
Research and experts always have
lagging information, but smartphones
are a new trend. Unfortunately, this
one is on you: is consumption vs.
creation what’s at stake for your
Top 3 social media fears
1. Violence in social media
a. Great, but what about the teenage
trends showing violence to
themselves rather than others?
2. Sexual content in social media
a. A good concern, yet in teenagers we
are seeing drops in sexual activity
over the last decade.
3. Spending too much time on
a. From the previous slides, I think
this might move to #1.
Want to be a great digital age parent?
Research indicates you probably already are, if you’re reading this in
the ﬁrst place!
What Psychologists have found on Parenting & Depression
A meta analysis on parenting and its effect on children’s depression
“...challenge the prevailing assumption that parenting plays a major
role in determining the psychological well-being of children. The
theoretical models referenced above all suggest that parenting plays
a central role in childhood symptomatology, yet the available
meta-analytic evidence suggests otherwise. Parenting appears to
account for a relatively small proportion of the [depression]
variance, at least in terms of a direct effect. In contrast, using
behavioral genetic methods, twin and adoption studies find a large
role for additive genetic variance in children's depression."
- McLeod, B. D., Weisz, J. R., & Wood, J. J. (2007)
Therapists and Technologists for You
At Pinwheel, we have
resources for you! Our
advisory board has licensed
therapists and psychologists
as well as software
technologists who care about
your children and you.
SIgn Up to Get more!
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Reply any time! A real
human reads it, and we
research, Q&A, podcasts,
and videos based on both
what we see in the clinic
and what you folks raise
A Parting Gift: Twitter accounts you may Enjoy
Slide 2: comScore. "Subscriber share held by smartphone operating systems in the United States from 2012 to 2019." Chart.
November 15, 2019.Statista.
Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.
Slide 4-8: Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.
Slide 9: van Den Heuvel, Meta, Julia Ma, Cornelia Borkhoff, Christine Koroshegyi, David Dai, Patricia Parkin, Jonathon
Maguire, and Catherine Birken. “Mobile Media Device Use Is Associated with Expressive Language Delay in 18-Month-Old
Children.” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 40, no. 2 (February 1, 2019): 99–104.
Slide 10: Twenge, J. M. (2017). Have smartphones destroyed a generation. The Atlantic, 3.
Slide 13-14: Common Sense Media; Various sources (VJR Consulting), The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to
Eight. Pg. 40. United States; January 20 to February 10, 2017, 0-8 years; 1,454.
Slide 16: McLeod, B. D., Weisz, J. R., & Wood, J. J. (2007). Examining the association between parenting and childhood
depression: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(8), 986-1003.
Slide 19: “Most influential parenting-related Twitter accounts in the United States as of 2018. Brandwatch. July 2018.