Parents only spend 24 minutes more with their kids than they do their phones, study finds

New research conducted by OnePoll, commissioned by The Genius of Play reveal how important screen time is to children. (Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Children seem to be enforcing their own screen time rules — on their parents, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children (aged 5–18) found that half of respondents have been asked by their child to put their phone away.

Parents are aware that their screen time is a problem, as 62 percent of those surveyed admitted to spending too much time on their cell phone while with their kids.

However, putting the phone down is easier said than done — conducted by OnePoll on behalf of The Genius of Play, results revealed that 69 percent of parents surveyed feel “addicted” to their phone.

Perhaps because of that, parents spend almost as much one-on-one time with their device as they do quality time with their children.

Results revealed that respondents spend two hours and 17 minutes of personal time on their phone per day, compared to two hours and 41 minutes of quality, screen-free time with their children.

The survey looked not only at parents’ screen habits, but those of their child and the overall relationship we have with our devices.

Seventy-four percent of parents surveyed worry that their child spends too much time staring at a screen, which might be why 65 percent have a limit on their child’s screen time — averaging about two hours per day.

At the same time, the results also revealed that screens are now an integral parenting tool. The majority (83 percent) of respondents agree: Screens and technology are necessary when raising a child in this day and age.

For the modern parent, screen time can be used to keep their child occupied (58 percent), as a reward (53 percent) and to help their child calm down when they’re upset (52 percent).

In addition, taking screen time away is used as a consequence by 63 percent of parents.

Still, those surveyed do recognize the importance of having time without screens — 83 percent said they believe it’s important to have time as a family without screens present.

“Whether you have a 2 year old or a 14 year old, it is important that all children experience various forms of play to stimulate their growing bodies and minds,” said Ken Seiter, EVP, Marketing Communications at The Toy Association, the organization that spearheads The Genius of Play. “Of course, playing on devices can make up some of that playtime, but parents should be mindful of the balance.

“Engaging children with a wide variety of toys and games will not only help create rich childhood memories, it will also lead to optimal physical, cognitive and social-emotional development while nurturing such critical skills as creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.”

Interestingly enough, 79 percent believe that their relationship with their children would benefit if they all spent less time on their devices.

And if they spent less time on their devices, parents say that they would spend that extra time enjoying a hobby with their children (56 percent), playing together (54 percent) or doing outdoor activities together as a family (54 percent).

“Parents often complain that it is hard to get kids to put down their devices, but they can set a positive example for children by swapping some of their own screen time for other types of play,” suggested Seiter. “At The Genius of Play, we work to raise awareness of the benefits of play and provide a host of play ideas, expert advice and toy picks to help families bring more excitement and variety to their playtime.”


  1. Screen time is limited 65 percent
  2. I need access to my child’s phone/screens to see what they’re looking at 57 percent
  3. My child can only watch educational shows/videos 55 percent
  4. No phones/screens at the dinner table 53 percent
  5. No phones/screens before bedtime 44 percent


  1. Providing my child with a good education 59 percent
  2. Ensuring my child’s physical health 53 percent
  3. Helping them to have a happy childhood 44 percent
  4. Teaching my child social skills 43 percent
  5. Teaching my child career-specific skills 38 percent

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<

NOTE: All news copy and multimedia on this SWNS account is free to use as you see fit. Where research has been conducted, we ask that you credit the company which commissioned it.




SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.

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SWNS is a UK and US-based news and media content agency with a proud 40-year history.

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