Common Sense Media: Tweens, Teens, Tech and Mental Health: A Generation Coming of Age in Crisis

Posted on July 29, 2020 at 4:21 pm

A new report from Common Sense Media examines the impact of the pandemic on the already-increasing levels of anxiety and depression among tweens and teens.

When the coronavirus pandemic upended our lives, it introduced new social distancing requirements, public health challenges, and social unrest. Almost overnight, school, social activities, and work were all pushed online. It’s too early to know the lasting effects of this radical shift in behavior. Instead, this report seeks to understand how best to reach adolescents who are disproportionately affected and most vulnerable, support them in digital spaces, and improve their mental health outcomes.

The in-depth literature review, combined with essays from leading experts, synthesizes what’s known about associations between digital technology use and adolescent mental health—and outlines what stakeholders can do to help.

Geoffrey Canada: The Digital Divide is a Bigger Problem Than Lacking Access
Jacqueline Dougé: Meeting Teens Where They Are
Sonia Livingstone: Parenting for a Digital Future
Jennifer Siebel Newsom: We Must Design Tech and Media Platforms with Kids in Mind
Lina Acosta Sandaal: The Burdens of the Latinx Family
Tiera Chanté Tanksley: Finding Peace During the Protests: Digital Wellness Tools for Black Girl Activists
Andrew Yang: Our Kids are Walking Around with Slot Machines in Their Pockets

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Parenting Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Teen Views on Social Media

Posted on September 12, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Copyright 2018 Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media has released a new study about teenagers and social media.  The full report has suggested responses for parents to the findings to give teens support and guidance.  Some of the highlights:

They can’t stop. They won’t stop. Seventy percent of teens use social media more than once a day (compared to 34 percent in 2012). Interestingly, most teens think technology companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices. Many of them also think that social media distracts them and and their friends.

Managing devices is hit or miss. Many turn off, silence, or put away their phones at key times such as when going to sleep, having meals with people, visiting family, or doing homework. But many others do not: A significant number of teens say they “hardly ever” or “never” silence or put away their devices.

Snapchat and Instagram are where it’s at. In 2012 Facebook utterly dominated social networking use among teens. Today, only 15 percent say it’s their main site (when one 16-year-old girl was asked in a focus group who she communicates with on Facebook, she replied, “My grandparents”).

Less talking, more texting. In 2012, about half of all teens still said their favorite way to communicate with friends was in person; today less than a third say so. But more than half of all teens say that social media takes them away from personal relationships and distracts them from paying attention to the people they’re with.

Copyright 2018 Common Sense Media


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Parenting Teenagers Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Is “Action Violence” Okay for Kids?

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm

What is the difference between a PG-13 movie and an R movie? Usually it has to do with language but very often it has to do with violence — not the amount of violence but the amount of gore. A battle scene can be just as long and have as many fatalities, but if we don’t see much blood or any graphic wounds, it will get a PG-13 rating.

Some people believe that what is called “action violence” (little blood) is worse for kids than R-rate violence because it perpetuates an unrealistic notion of the real-life effect of shootouts and car crashes.

A recent New York Times piece collected four essays on the subject under the title: PG-13 Blockbusters and the Sugarcoating of Violence. Betsy Bozdech of Common Sense Media writes:

dventures that are light on blood and guts may seem more palatable. But showing violence with minimized consequences might be damaging in a different way. If you don’t bat an eye when, in a movie, thousands of innocent civilians are caught in an alien-fighting crossfire, or a national landmark explodes, you may be becoming desensitized.

More important, when movie characters are walking away from firefights with barely a scratch or slaughtering hordes of bad guys, it sends an iffy message when their actions don’t have repercussions. Research shows that if kids don’t see negative behavior punished, they’re more likely to imitate it — especially when it is performed by an appealing character or if it seems to be justified by the outcome (both of which are fairly typical of superhero movies).

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Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Guidelines for Parents: Is My Child Old Enough for This Movie?

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Betsy Bozdech of Common Sense Media gives Cricket’s Circle some tips on determining whether your child is old enough to understand and appreciate a movie.

The most important factors to keep in mind: (1) Do your homework — just because a movie is rated PG or because you vaguely remember seeing it as a kid or because it is animated or their friends have seen it does not mean it is right for your child. (2) Know your child — just because your other child was fine with it at this age does not mean that this one will be. Remember that sometimes the greatest gift you can give your child is cover so they don’t have to be the ones to tell their friends they think it’s too scary.

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Parenting Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Teens Spend More than a Full Workweek on Digital Media — Common Sense Media

Posted on November 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

A report published today by Common Sense Media revealed that 26% of American teenagers spend upwards of eight hours a day on entertainment media. The San-Francisco based non-profit, which tracks children and their technology use, found that teens divide their screen time between social media, music, gaming and online videos. The report does not factor in time spent on media for school or homework.

The report found wide variation in the kinds of media consumed. Even among the teens who focus on gaming, there are sub-groups (mobile gaming, video gaming, video/computer combined gamers), and those who focus on social media or reading. Among the findings:

Boys and girls have very different media preferences and habits.
There are stark differences in the media preferences and habits of boys and girls, in both the tween and teen years. The biggest difference is in console video game playing: Most boys like console games a lot and play them frequently, and most girls don’t. Girls like reading more than boys do and devote more time to it. Both boys and girls enjoy listening to music and using social media “a lot,” but girls enjoy those activities more and spend quite a bit more time doing them. For example, among teens, 27 percent of boys say playing video games is their favorite media activity; only 2 percent of girls do. Teen boys average 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared with only seven minutes for girls. On the other hand, teen girls spend about 40 minutes more a day with social media than boys on average (1:32, compared with :52 among boys). And teen girls spend more time reading than boys too: an average of 33 minutes a day, compared with 23 for boys (41 percent of teen girls say they enjoy reading “a lot,” compared with 19 percent of boys that age).

Despite the variety of new media activities available to them, watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.
Tweens and teens have a plethora of choices when it comes to media-related activities, from watching YouTube videos to using Instagram, from playing Angry Birds on a smartphone to playing World of Warcraft on a computer. But when asked which activities they enjoy “a lot” and which they engage in “every day,” watching TV and listening to music dominate. Among tweens, the top activity is watching TV: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) say they watch “every day” (by comparison, 24 percent watch online videos and 27 percent play mobile games every day). Among teens, music is No. 1: Two-thirds (66 percent) listen to music “every day” (by comparison, 45 percent use social media and 27 percent play mobile games every day).

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Parenting Teenagers
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