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Teens and Internet Addiction

November 3, 2023

A new report finds that teen internet addiction is more concerning to parents than drug addiction

A new report from the Child Mind Institute, produced with support from Morgan Stanley, finds that teen internet addiction is more concerning to parents than drug addiction. The report draws on a large survey of U.S. parents of children aged 9 to 15, which sought to identify trends in excessive or problematic internet use (PIU) among teens.

“The primary goal of this survey was to characterize parental perceptions and concerns about internet use associated with child and adolescent development, well-being, safety, family connectedness, and potential for PIU,” said Giovanni Salum, MD, PhD, Program Director at the Child Mind Institute and a member of the research team. “Understanding parent perceptions is important both to gauge the extent of problematic internet use as a public health issue, and to better understand the family dimension of problematic use.”

While half of parents surveyed reported a positive view of internet usage and confidence in their child’s ability to use the internet responsibly, half also expressed specific concerns about how internet use was affecting their child’s development. Parents reported concerns about substance addiction, but twice as many expressed concerns about internet addiction.

The report identifies links between PIU and both negative parenting styles and parent internet use, but also — quite strikingly — a link between adolescent use of social networking and family connectedness. The nuances of the findings, revealing both perceived benefits and concerns among parents, provide critical insight when it comes to intervention.

The report’s lead author, Michael P. Milham, MD, PhD, Vice President of Research at the Child Mind Institute, said: “The perception of enhanced familial interconnectedness afforded by internet use in this study should be leveraged into family interventions designed to enhance open communication and monitoring of potential dangers of internet use in youth.”

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Molly Hagan
Molly Hagan is a freelance journalist and playwright in New York City. She is a staff writer for Current Biography … Read Bio