Wednesday 15 July 2020

Teens spend too much time looking at screens, say teens

Hundreds of young children have their own phones. Photo:

Dutch teenagers think they are spending too much time on their phones, laptops and tablets and seven in 10 regret not spending more time outside, new research  commissioned by the Volkskrant reveals.

The survey, among 569 youngsters aged between 10 and 22, showed that they spent an average of three hours and 20 minutes a day looking at a screen outside school hours. Like their parents, the teens themselves think 2.5 hours would be a more responsible amount of time.

Many teens also think that too much screen time is having a detrimental effect both on their physical and their mental well-being. Over half (57%) the teens thinks overuse leads to sleeping problems and 47% think it can lead to problems with their eyesight, a lack of  concentration (45%), and shoulder and back problems (50%). Most of the teen respondents blame the light emanating from the screens.

Earlier research already pointed to the negative effects on sleep quality for children who use their phones until late at night. According to eye specialist professor Caroline Klaver the combination of long periods behind a screen and no time spent playing outside can lead to myopia or even blindness, the paper said.


A separate survey, involving over 1,000 parents, showed they are not always as aware of the health risks as their children, with only 38% citing potential shoulders and back problems. They also underestimate the amount of time their children spend on their phones.

Peter Kanne of I&O research, which conducted the survey, told the Volkskrant parents allow their children much leeway when it comes to screen use and that they think a child can navigate the internet without supervision from the age of 13. This also means parents do not have sufficient insight in the negative aspects of their children’s online activities, he said.

Despite the criticism, teenagers are happy to have the devices, with almost half saying social media a welcome addition to their lives.

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