3 in 4 US teens say they are happy or peaceful without their smartphone

Survey by the Pew Research Centre comes amid growing push to regulate children’s access to digital platforms.

The effects digital platforms are having on children is a growing concern across the world [File: Jenny Kane/AP]

Nearly three out of four teenagers in the United States say they feel happy or peaceful when they do not have their smartphone with them, a survey has found, underscoring concerns about the effects of digital media on minors.

But despite their positive associations with putting their smartphone away, only 36 percent of teens reported cutting back on using their devices, the survey by the Pew Research Centre showed on Monday.

Overall, 38 percent of teens reported spending too much time on their smartphone, compared with 51 percent who said their time spent was “about right,” with girls more likely than boys to consider their use excessive.

Teens reported similar experiences with social media, with 39 percent saying they had reduced their exposure and 27 percent reporting their use was excessive.

When it came to learning social skills, 42 percent said that smartphones had made it harder, compared with 30 percent who said they helped.

The survey also found that a significant portion of teens experience negative emotions when they are without their device.

About four in 10 teens said not having their smartphone made them feel anxious, upset or lonely at least sometimes.

The findings come amid a growing push by policymakers in the US and elsewhere to regulate the use of digital platforms by minors.

More than 40 US states last year announced a lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, accusing the tech giant of harming children’s mental health by building addictive features into its platforms.

During an appearance before the US Senate in January, Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg offered an apology to families who said their children had been negatively affected by the company’s platforms.

US states, including Texas and Florida, the United Kingdom and the European Union have passed legislation aimed at reducing children’s exposure to harmful content online.

Last month, Canada became the latest country to move towards greater regulation of tech companies with the unveiling of the Online Harms Act, which would require platforms to introduce features to protect children, such as parental controls and safe search settings.

Source: Al Jazeera