Comedian Will Ferrell stars in new PSA to end device addiction

Will Ferrell RTR FBN

Comedian Will Ferrell wants kids to stop using their mobile devices at the dinner table.

The actor teamed up with the nonprofit, Common Sense, in a series of PSAs announcements released Thursday, encouraging families to put the device down during dinner.

The new spots are part of Common Sense Media’s #DeviceFreeDinner campaign, which is an effort to highlight media addiction and media use in kids.

According to a new study released by the organization, there has been a spike in the number of children from birth to eight years old that have their own tablet device at 42%, up from 1% in 2011. The amount of time children spend with their mobile devices is also spiking from just five minutes in 2011, to around 48 minutes today. The data is based on a large nationally representative sample of respondents and replicates methods from 2011 and 2013 to gauge how media environments and behaviors have changed over the years.

“At a time of revolutionary change in the media landscape, the study is the only one of its kind, tracking young children's use of new mobile media devices and apps along with older media platforms such as television, computers and books,” the company said.

According to parents, nearly half (49%) of children age eight or under often or sometimes watch TV or videos or play video games in the hour before bedtime, contrary to recommendations from pediatricians.

Additionally, about one in 10 kids age eight or under have a "smart" toy that connects to the internet or a voice-activated virtual assistant device available to them in the home, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

"In today's tech-driven world, where things are moving so quickly, it is really important to step back and take a hard look at what technology kids are using and how they are using it," James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense said. "If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks -- and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives."

The new video, however, depicts Ferrell—the parent—as the “phone culprit,” who won’t put his phone down while his kids are telling him about their day.

"It's no fun to show someone disciplining a kid, but disciplining a parent who happens to be played by a famous comedian? Major fun," Jeff Goodby, founder and chairman at GS&P, who created the PSA, said in a statement.

"We know that kids who have family dinners get better grades, have healthier eating habits, and have fewer behavior problems," said Margaret Johnson, partner and CCO at GS&P. "So we enlisted some celebrity help to show the importance of having device-free dinners."