Americans ages 11 to 18 play online for an average of 10 hours per day, according to a study out today by a research team that includes psychologist Jean Twenge, author of “iGen” and “Generation Me.”
The researchers surveyed 1,600 Americans ages 11 to 18 in May 2022. On average, the study participants reported using digital media an average of 10 hours and four minutes per day, on such entertainment activities as social media, video chat, texting, shopping, and gaming.
That’s a total of 70 hours per week spent online, approximately double the average time spent in school. If teens were suddenly banned from screen time, they could use the time freed from solely that to instead hold down both a full-time and a part-time job. Some of this average may include multitasking, such as texting while scrolling Instagram, the study said, but this total of 70 hours per week spent on screens also did not include time spent watching TV.
Low-Class Behavior Rampant in Middle Class
The researchers say their Institute for Family Studies and Wheatley Institute study is the first to examine the effects of family structure on young people’s screen time. They found that teens living with their own biological and married parents still spent an astonishing amount of time on screens, at an average of nine hours per day. Still, that was nearly two hours fewer per day, on average, than children living without a biological parent, who spent an average of 11 hours per day online.
“The adolescents most likely to be depressed, lonely, and dissatisfied with life are heavy digital media users in stepparent, single-parent, or other non-intact families,” write study authors Twenge, Wendy Wang, Jenet Erickson, and Brad Wilcox. “The link between excessive technology use and poor mental health is larger for youth in non-intact families compared to those in intact families.”
So, according to this study’s findings, children in intact families spend an average of 63 hours per week amusing themselves online, while children in broken families spend an average of 77 hours per week amusing themselves online. The study discovered “especially large differences by family structure in youth time spent on gaming and texting. For example, youth in stepfamilies report spending about 50 minutes a day more texting than youth in intact families.”
Other studies on children’s screen use reinforce this finding — that America’s young people are wasting almost all of their waking free time on entertainment instead of personal growth or service to others. As this IFS/Wheatley study points out, this shift has happened extremely quickly, and it’s not all because of the 2020-2022 Covid lockdowns that also arrested American children’s development. Between 2009 and 2017, “the time high school students spent online doubled.”
The study points out that high screen time for adolescents is correlated with depression, loneliness, lack of sleep, and negative body image. It does not mention the opportunity cost of diverting young people’s free time to entertainment consumption instead of personal development that benefits others, such as learning to repair bicycles, playing outside, testing out jobs through work and internships, or working to save for college or marriage.
The study recommends that parents keep electronic devices out of kids’ bedrooms at night, limit screen time to a few hours per day, delay smartphone access to age 16 or 18, keep kids off social media as long as possible, and arrange for their kids to make friends with kids in families with similar boundaries about tech use to help their children socialize with people instead of robots.
Unchallenged mass tech addiction is one more way our morally bankrupt ruling class incentivizes destructive lower-class behaviors instead of encouraging lower classes to raise their standards. This works to erase the middle class by indulging laziness, like the shameful “quiet quitting” PR campaign. This is another form of societal suicide. Laziness cannot maintain, let alone keep advancing, the United States’ world-class level of scientific and cultural advancement.
Nothing worth having comes without strenuous and sustained effort. Internet addictions erase not only willpower but also self-discipline, excellence, and the communication skills needed to work with others and sustain key relationships such as marriages, as Twenge and others’ academic work shows.
This Is a National Crisis
If a child played with Legos for 10 hours a day, every day, his parents or teacher would have him screened for autism and developmental delays. If a child played pretend for 10 hours a day, at any age, he’d be sent to the school psychologist.
If your child did anything for 10 hours a day, you’d be worried about him and work strenuously to bring some balance to his life, for his own good. Parents need to man up and do the hard work of tightly restricting the addictive side of the internet from their kids, for not only their own good but for the sake of our country. Even 30 hours of screen time a week is obviously excessive for kids. Seventy hours of screen time a week is completely out of control, the willful destruction of our future.
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war,” wrote the National Commission on Excellence in Education in the famous 1983 report, “A Nation At Risk.” “As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”
The same sentiment applies to today’s American youth, but in a far more advanced condition. If a foreign nation had imposed on Americans the destruction of our mental and moral capacity that results from such rampant internet addiction as this study explores, we’d consider it an act of war. In fact, it’s pretty clear that our top foreign adversary created an addictive social media app for the same reason it helps Mexican drug cartels ship fentanyl across our border: because China knows that if they destroy America’s future, they rule the world.
The only thing standing between them and your kids is you, parents. Maybe a few elected officials could stand with us and take down these internet monopolies that make bank strip-mining our future, or at least require real proof of parental consent for children to use addictive tech products, such as a tiny credit card payment. But don’t wait for others to do your job for you. Put down your phone, grab your kids, and make your family motto the title of one of my childhood books: “Do Something Besides Watching TV.”
If your children enter adulthood having done nothing with 25,000 hours of their lives they can never get back, and with their brains destroyed by internet slot machines, that’s on you. You’re the one paying for their phone and letting them self-destruct. Tell them to get a job or read some books or do anything but sabotage themselves and our society. If you don’t, you deserve to be judged the same way as moms who put Mountain Dew in their babies’ bottles.