Parents and Teens Often at Odds over Phone Use

by Dasun Panapitiya ‘24

Over the past decade, technology use among teenagers has been growing rapidly. With global smartphone corporations dominating the technology and communication markets, it becomes a relatively simple feat to arm every person with mini-compact computers that are exponentially stronger than the one that sent a man to the moon half a century ago. This also means very nearly every developing and school-going adolescent is carrying around their own phone. This consistently growing tech-dominated society also has become accessible to the historically underrepresented youth. However, many parents of teenagers see this smartphone revolution as detrimental to the stability of their child’s success.

According to Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens had access to phones in 2022, and it has most likely increased since then. A Rutgers study involving the use of electronics during lectures and cumulative exams showed that people who used electronics exhibited lower performance rates and lower scores on final exams. Thus parents are justified in their fears about growing technology use among teens. However, many teens see these concerns by parents as authoritative, and they resist efforts by their parents to establish restrictions on phone use.
Technology has also created a new generation of adolescents that are more aware of the world. While many argue that this would not be good for someone at such a young age, others might see this as a benefit to a stronger and more active generation. It then comes to the conclusion that screen time limits can feel like an act of suppression for teens, whereas for parents it feels like common sense to apply restrictions to the amount of screen time a teen can have in order to help maintain a healthy lifestyle for them.

There has recently been a growth of more progressive parents who are willing to trust teenagers for more natural growth compared to an authoritative parenting style. A benefit to giving a teenager unlimited access to a screen is that regulating a screen can be more stressful to the parent itself. The teenagers will learn to regulate themselves eventually, usually after making a mistake because of their screen usage.