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Report: Teens’ Digital Media Habits Shaped by Family Structure

Youth from non-intact families more likely to use technology excessively and struggle with mental health

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Read the press release:

A few decades ago, teens and their parents often debated family rules around curfews, going out with friends, and using the car. Although these issues still arise, the most fraught discussions in many families are now centered on a different concern: electronic devices.

This report examines technology and media use among America’s teens, including teens’ tech use by their family structure. Given the apparent emotional and physical fallout of excessive tech use, it also explores how factors associated with teen well-being—e.g., depression, life satisfaction, and sleep—are linked to technology use and family structure. This is the first study to explore how adolescent use of technology varies by family structure and how technology exposure and family structure are both linked to the emotional welfare of today’s teens.

About the Authors

Jean M. Twenge is a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and is the author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Wendy Wang is Director of Research at the Institute for Family Studies and a former Senior Researcher at Pew Research Center.

Jenet Erickson is a fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, a fellow of the Wheatley Institute, and an associate professor in Religious Education and the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University.

Brad Wilcox is the Future of Freedom fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wilcox has published widely on marriage, cohabitation, fatherhood, and the welfare of children.

About the Institute for Family Studies
The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) is a research and public education organization whose mission is to strengthen marriage and family life and advance the well-being of children.

About the Wheatley Institute
The Wheatley Institute at Brigham Young University engages students, scholars, thought leaders, and the public in research-supported work that fortifies the core institutions of the family, religion, and constitutional government.