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Survey: Parents say smartphones have negative impact on kids

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunJust over half of Tokyo parents think using smartphones or mobile phones may negatively affect their children by causing a shortage of sleep or decline in concentration, among other things, according to a Tokyo metropolitan government survey.

The figure was 51.2 percent, 10.8 percentage points up from a previous survey last year.

This year’s survey, which was conducted in February, involved 1,500 parents or guardians living in Tokyo who allowed their children to have smartphones or other communications devices, and included questions about their children’s smartphone use and problems that may have occurred. The survey covered parents with fourth grade-age elementary school children up to high school-age children. A similar survey has been conducted since 2009.

In the latest survey, 40.4 percent of respondents whose children were elementary-school age said that their children used smartphones. The figure rose to 83.6 percent for parents with children at junior high school and 93.6 percent for those with high-school age children.

Asked about the negative impacts of smartphone use by children, the most popular response at 19.9 percent was lack of sleep, followed by weakening eyesight at 18.7 percent, and a drop in memory or capacity to concentrate on studying at 15.3 percent. Respondents were able to select multiple answers to this question.

The number of respondents who said they had encountered problems related to smartphones was 16.2 percent, 6.5 percentage points up from the previous survey. One of the cases that stood out involved children who were in trouble with their friends due to emails and free apps. Another case involved children who received a bill by email for something they had not ordered.

On rules to control children’s smartphone use at home, 71.7 percent of respondents said they had rules, 12 percentage points up from the previous year, while 28.3 percent said they did not set any. Of the parents who set rules, 34.6 percent of respondents said they placed time restrictions on smartphone use and 30.8 percent of respondents said they demanded children inform their parents or guardians immediately if they experience difficulties.

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