A new research published in a journal named Addictive Behaviors talks about how excessive use of smartphones can affect behavioral patterns which can interfere in our personal, social and professional lives. The overuse of smartphones also results in disturbed sleep patterns, strained personal relationships and decrease in productivity. The research talks about how parents can take part in making their children use smartphones as little as possible. The study also explains that parents should focus more on participation and less on supervision when it comes to their child’s use of smartphones.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 1187 families which consisted of a mother, father and their adolescent child of ages between 14 to 18. The researchers collected the data at two points, one from baseline and other from six-month follow up. The researchers observed the family dynamics of researchers, focusing on how parents discussed smartphone usage to their adolescent, their general communications and how they spent their quality times together. Efrati, the lead researcher, and his team of other researchers found out that there was improvement in communications between parents and their adolescents about smartphone usage. The research also found out that communication with only fathers and adolescents also played an important and more effective part in reduction of smartphone use.

The researchers also talked about four main parental strategies that can help in the smartphone usage reduction of their adolescents. The first strategy is restrictive mediation that involves setting rules and timings on smartphone use. Parents can impose these rules and timings to their adolescents on their child’s phone to limit its use. This method showed a decrease in PSU and social pressure on adolescents. The second strategy is negative active which means mediation of parents to disapprove of their adolescent’s certain smartphone activities. In this strategy, parents often criticize their children’s overuse of smartphones in front of them. But a negative active strategy has negative effects like increased PSU and social pressure.

There is also a positive action strategy which is opposite to negative action where parents tell their children beneficial and advantageous use of smartphones. This helps the children focus on using smartphones for better purposes. As opposed to negative active, adolescents felt free from getting emotional gain from smartphones and connected emotionally with their parents. The fourth strategy is co-use where parents can get involved in smartphone activities with their children like playing games or exploring the internet. When parents used smartphones with their parents, it also resulted in decreased social pressure about smartphone overuse.

This study altogether found out that communication, support and limited mediation of parents with their adolescents can help decrease their smartphone use. However, this study is also limited to only one area and the researchers are not sure if these type of strategies can be used everywhere in the world.

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Image: DIW-Aigen

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