Teens 'twice as likely' as parents to sleep with their cell phones, survey finds

Both teenagers and their parents often check notifications on their phones before bed — though some age groups may be more dependent on devices than others, a new report discovered.

Common Sense Media surveyed 1,000 parents and children to examine their reliance on smartphones. Researchers admitted they were concerned about a cell phone user's sleeping habits, in particular.

Roughly 62 percent of parents kept their smartphones within reach during the night, while 39 percent of teens said they kept their devices close, according to the results of the survey. Teens are "twice as likely" to have the device in bed with them, the survey found. It also discovered 36 percent of teens wake up in the middle of the night to check their phone after receiving a notification, while 26 percent of parents said they did the same.

Many doctors and researchers have warned against using screens an hour before going to sleep. However, 61 percent of parents said they use their devices about a half-hour before going to bed and 70 percent of teens said they also use their smartphones shortly before falling asleep.

Most parents acknowledged they have a problem unplugging — especially at night.

More than 50 percent of parents reported they spend too much time on their smartphones, up 23 points since 2016. Almost half of the parents (45 percent) also reported that they were worried they were addicted to their devices.

In comparison, 39 percent of teenagers said they felt addicted, an 11 point drop since 2016. But the study found 68 percent of parents thought their children spent “too much time” on their devices and 61 percent believed their child was addicted to their smartphones. The margin of error for every sample was 4.4 percent.

Lauren Hale, a speech researcher and professor at Stony Brook University, said she was not surprised by the results.

“People are using their mobile devices all the time,” Hale, who reviewed the study, said. “I’m not surprised by these numbers, but they certainly are high.”

James P. Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, called the report a “wake-up call” to parents.


“Parents may feel that it’s too late to take back control once their kids are so attached to their phones and tablets, but with studies linking poor sleep to a number of mental and physical health problems, as well as diminished academic and cognitive performance, I urge parents to consider these findings as a wake-up call that device use might truly impact the health of their children and themselves,” Steyer said in a statement.

Some companies have taken steps to keep mobile users off their phone more. Google and Apple have features on their phones that dims the screen so mobile users have a warmer light before heading to bed. Apple has a feature called Screen Time which sets limits for how long you want to spend on your device. The feature can also monitor how long your children are on their devices. Google has a similar feature called Digital Wellbeing which allows mobile users to limit their time on their devices.