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Parents Spend 9 Hours A Day On Their Phone, TV Screens

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Parents, do you want your kids to lessen the time they spend online?

Results from a new survey suggest you may have to look in the mirror first, because parents have been found to spend as much time glued to their TV or phone screens as their children.

Parental Screen Time

Past research has shown that teenagers spend around nine hours a day watching videos or listening to music online, while kids aged 8 to 12 years old spend six hours a day doing the same things.

Now, a new study sponsored by Common Sense Media has found that parents of teens and tweens also spend more than nine hours a day consuming media.

In fact, more than 80 percent of parents who spend their time online allot it for pleasure, not for work, by playing games, engaging in social network, watching television, browsing websites or doing other things on a tablet, smartphone or computer, the report said.

"I think it tells you that (parents) are not that different than their kids," said Common Sense Media research director Michael Robb.

Good Role Models?

Out of the 1,800 parents surveyed in the study, about 78 percent felt that they were good role models for their kids when it comes to social media use.

Robb said these parents worry about their children's use of technology but still spend a large amount of time on screens themselves. He said finding the right balance is a challenge for parents.

About two-thirds of parents said media multitasking, which includes using more than one screen at a time or watching TV while writing a proposal on the computer, has no impact on the quality of their work.

In last year's survey of teens and kids who multitask, about the same number said watching TV or texting while completing their homework does not affect its quality.

The most surprising finding of the survey is that most parents fear that the use of social media could negatively impact their children's physical activity. Too much time using their phones or tablets could mean less time for exercise, the report said.

When it comes to race, the survey found that Hispanic parents expressed more concern over their kids' social media use compared with African-American or white parents.

Parents whose kids were tweens were also found to be more concerned than parents of teenagers.

"The younger you go, the more concerns you have," said Robb.

Overall, about 94 percent of parents in the survey said they think that technology has benefits for their kids, while they were more split about the effects of social media: 15 percent are worried social media can hurt their kids, while 44 percent believe it can help establish friendships for their children.

Not A Guilt-Trip

Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, said the point of the research is not to say that the use of media is bad for kids or for parents. He said it's not meant to be a guilt-trip.

"You can use your example to teach your kids that technology is a tool and can be great, depending on how you use it and how much," said Steyer.

Furthermore, he said that parents have to set their own rules regarding a healthy "technology diet" and stick to it, which can strongly influence their children.

Details of the survey can be found on the Common Sense Media website.

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