SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The overwhelming majority of Australian parents, or roughly 92 percent, believe that media and smartphones are having an adverse effect on the development of their children, according to a study released by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on Thursday.
The study, by UNSW Sydney’s Gonski Institute for Education, was designed to gauge the attitudes of parents and uncover the extent to which they see smart devices, including phones and tablets, as having an effect on their children’s development and wellbeing.
Results showed that over 77 percent of parents considered social media as having such a grip on their school-aged children that it was negatively impacting their family relationships.
Institute Research Director and renowned international education expert, Professor Pasi Sahlberg said that the new attitudinal results resonated with academic research regarding the time which children spend outside playing with their peers.
“These new findings reveal a total of 85 percent of parents say kids today spend less time playing than they did when they were their children’s age,” he said.
According to Sahlberg, this may mean that children are missing out on vital developmental steps.
“Learning through play may be the most effective and easiest way to help all children to learn collaboration, problem-solving, resiliency, creativity and empathy which are all highly desired future job skills,” Sahlberg said.
Despite most parents recognizing these benefits, which is backed up by recent studies, over 90 percent of respondents said that smartphones and other media are to blame for the reducing amount of time that children have for daily physical activities and active outdoor play.
“Smartphones certainly have a role to play in all our lives but at the right times and in the right ways,” Sahlberg said.
“I think society is only catching up to the impacts of technology and social media on children and there needs to be some controls around this,” he said.