The New Bedtime Companion: Devices

New research from Common Sense reveals unhealthy habits and escalating concerns about device use among parents and teens in the U.S.

Common Sense Media
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, May 29, 2019The New Normal: Parents, Teens, Screens, and Sleep in the United States, the latest research from Common Sense, found that a staggering 68% of teens and 74% of parents now take their mobile devices to bed with them—with 29% of teens actually sleeping with them. More than a third of teens and more than a quarter of parents wake up during the night to check the devices for something other than the time.

The study, which was released today, surveyed 1,000 teens and parents in the United States and is the second wave of ongoing research by the organization to understand mobile device use by parents and teens and to surface attitudes and concerns about how the technology is affecting family relationships.

Key findings:

  1. We don't listen to our own advice. Screen time usually doesn't stop in the hour before bed, even though doctors and researchers recommend it. Seventy percent of teens and 61% of parents check their mobile device within 30 minutes of falling asleep.

  2. Parents now feel they spend too much time on their mobile devices, and teens now feel that they don't, a flip from 2016. More than half of parents (52%) feel they spend too much time on their device—up from 29% in 2016. But the opposite is true for teens: Thirty-nine percent of teens say they spend too much time on their device today, compared to 61% in 2016.

  3. More kids wish their parent would get off their device. There has been an 11-point increase in the number of children who think their parent spends too much time on their device (28% in 2016 vs. 39% today). There is also a 22-point decrease in the number of children who think their parent spends the right amount of time on their mobile device (64% in 2016 vs. 42% today).

  4. While the percentage of parents who think their child's use of a mobile device has hurt their relationship increased to 28% from 15% in 2016, in general, conflicts over mobile devices are less common than they were three years ago, and most parents and children report that devices are not hurting their relationship.

  5. Children do see an impact on their relationship when they believe their parent is addicted to their mobile device. Children who believe their parent is addicted to their device are 18 points more likely to believe that their parent's behavior has hurt their relationship (20% of children who think their parent is addicted vs. 2% who do not).

"At a time when the research community is raising alarms about the health consequences of inadequate sleep, this new research from Common Sense provides yet another proof point of the many ways that our use of technology can impact our health and well-being and how technology is rapidly changing the family dynamic," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "If technology harms our health and relationships, we need to change our ways. It's as simple as that."

The findings from The New Normal: Parents, Teens, Screens, and Sleep in the United States will be presented today at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, during a conference hosted by Common Sense. Designing for Our Future: Solutions for Digital Well-Being will convene tech leaders, engineers, and industry experts to encourage industry to design less manipulative technology and commit to creating quality products from the start that benefit the well-being of families. Speakers include Tristan Harris, founder of the Center for Humane Technology; Ellen Pao, CEO of Project Include; Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies; Dave Eggers, co-founder of 826 National; and Cameron Kasky, co-founder of March for Our Lives. (The conference will be livestreamed here.)


Lake Research Partners designed and administered this mixed-mode survey using professional telephone interviewers February 2 to February 27, 2019, and an online platform February 19 to March 1, 2019. The survey reached a total of 1,000 parents and their children nationwide (paired interviews of 500 parents and 500 children between the ages of 12 and 18). Of the 1,000 completes, 43% (n = 428) were conducted by phone and 57% (n = 572) were conducted online. The telephone and online data were combined and weighted overall to be representative of the actual population of parents and children. The margin of error for each sample is +/-4.4%.

The Common Sense Research Program is supported by Eva and Bill Price, the Price Family Research Fund, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

About Common Sense

Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at


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Susan Skinner

Director of Communications | Common Sense Media

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