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MIT Technology Review

Turns out we have no idea how tech affects our kids

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We think our children are addicted to phones—but are we right to be worried about the fallout?

Parents always worry: A survey by Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey featured in USA Today says 60 percent of US children own a smartphone or tablet that connects to the internet. And 47 percent of parents worry that their children are addicted to the device.

Maybe they should: Earlier this year, a study published in the journal Emotion suggested that self-esteem and happiness fell among American teens since 2012. It also pointed out that the decline aligned with their spending more time looking at screens.

The kids are alright: Gizmodo notes that a new study, this one in a journal called Educational Psychology, suggests that time spent on social media doesn’t have a detrimental effect on schoolwork. It doesn’t affect time spent studying, either, and while there’s a small correlation between its use and poorer grades, intense messaging actually correlated with better marks.

Bottom line: We don’t have a full understanding yet of how screens, smartphones, and social media affect our children. But some of our hunches aren’t necessarily correct.