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Smartphones causing major rift in parent-child relationships, 94% worried about effects on mental health

In today’s digital age, smartphones have seamlessly integrated into every aspect of our daily lives. However, smartphones are ruining the way children are raised.

The widespread use of smartphones and similar devices now casts a shadow on children’s relationships with their parents.

The latest research, the fifth edition of Vivo Switch Off Research conducted in collaboration with Cybermedia Research (CMR), sheds light on the far-reaching consequences of excessive smartphone use on parent-child relationships.

The research, encompassing over 1,500 respondents across major Indian cities, has also enlisted the expertise of Catherine Price, a renowned health and science writer and author of ‘How to Break Up with your Phone – The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life.’

Key findings
The comprehensive study, titled ‘Impact of Smartphones on Parent-Child Relationship,’ exposes alarming trends. While 70 percent of parents view smartphones as information hubs and social connectors, and 60 percent appreciate them for family connections and shopping convenience, a darker side emerges in the usage patterns of children.

On average, children begin using smartphones at 12, spending approximately 6.5 hours daily, primarily on gaming. A concerning 91 percent of children admit to feeling anxiety when separated from their devices, indicating an emotional dependency. Furthermore, almost 90 percent are engrossed in phone activities at home, raising concerns about addiction and its impact on their well-being.

The findings also reveal parental apprehensions. A staggering 94 percent of parents express worry about their children’s mental health due to excessive phone use, with 91 percent advocating for restrictions.

Concerns extend to social skills and overall development, with 91 percent fearing adverse effects.

The strain on relationships is evident, with 90 percent of parents feeling irritated when interrupted by phone-distracted children, leading to diminished quality time and increased loneliness for the children.

Children do what they see their parents do
Shockingly, 75 percent of parents engage with phones during their shared two-hour time with children, raising questions about the quality of interaction.

Key findings highlight the tensions in smartphone usage: Parents spend 7.7 hours daily on smartphones, 1.2 hours more than their children.

Additionally, 87 percent and 73 percent of parents check their phones first and last thing, mirroring similar patterns observed in children. Despite spending just two hours together, 75 percent admit to phone use, contributing to mutual guilt over relationship quality.

Glimmer of hope
Despite these challenges, there is a glimmer of hope. The study indicates that 94 percent of parents prioritize in-person interactions over screen scrolling during leisure, and 96 percent strongly desire to deepen family connections.

This collective yearning for meaningful relationships amid technology saturation paints an optimistic picture.

As the founder of ‘Screen/life Balance,’ a resource hub promoting healthier relationships with smartphones, Price will advise Vivo on curating solutions to help individuals develop productive habits for meaningful smartphone use.

Geetaj Channana, Head of Corporate Strategy at Vivo India, emphasized the significance of the Switch Off 2023 initiative. “Switch Off 2023 goes beyond the report as a commitment, urging everyone to participate in Switch Off Day on December 20th,” she said.

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