Uncaring parents

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NEW YORK — There is no shortage of studies showing the ill effects of screen time on young, developing minds. Yet while many parents set rules in place to limit their kids’ electronics time, most aren’t doing the best job role modeling themselves. According to new research, three out of five American parents admit that they spend more time on their electronic devices than their kids do.

On average, moms and dads spend nearly five hours a day on electronic devices. Sadly, that’s more than the less than four hours they spend on meaningful activities with their kids, according to the survey of 2,000 U.S. parents. Most parents (80%) own three electronic devices or more, with the majority of their kids (81%) owning at least two electronic devices, highlighting the enormous presence of technology in households.

Only two percent of their kids do not own any devices.

Parents in the digital age need more quality time with their children

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Campspot, reveals that more than half of U.S. parents (60%) are seeking ways to escape technology and reconnect with their kids. With nearly eight in 10 (79%) of parents claiming their experiences with their children are more memorable without the presence of electronic devices, it’s no surprise that most (52%) parents have attempted to limit technology usage within their households. 

Moms and dads are encouraging more outdoor play (76%), setting time limits (74%) and creating device-free zones (63%). The majority also started engaging in outdoor family activities this summer, with camping and hiking trips (59%) emerging as the most popular choice. That’s followed by picnics (58%) and visiting amusement and water parks (58%).

“Summer is the perfect time to unplug and reconnect with what truly matters – our families,” says chief marketing officer at Campspot, Erin Stender, in a statement. “We know the power of stepping away from screens and immersing ourselves in nature, since it’s often in these moments that we create the strongest family bonds. Camping in particular offers a unique opportunity for families to experience new adventures together, fostering not only a love for the outdoors but also nurturing children’s self-development.”

American parents agree, with a majority asserting that outdoor activities foster communication and connection (60%) within the family as well as create lasting memories that help a family bond (57%).

Let’s go camping!

With camping trips deemed the most popular summer activity, parents are seeing the positive impacts that specific camping activities have on their children’s personal development. These include nature walks (44%), campfire cooking (42%), fishing (38%) and setting up tents (32%).

Moreover, they observed that camping and outdoor experiences fostered problem-solving skills (59%), independence (54%) and resilience (54%) in their kids.

Parents also noticed a positive shift in their own parenting style when outdoors. Seventy-two percent reported being able to focus more on family time, while more than half (52%) admitted to feeling more relaxed and laid-back in such environments.

“By spending quality time without electronic devices, we give ourselves the gift of undivided attention, fostering deeper connections and meaningful conversations that become the foundation of lasting memories,” adds Stender.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children was commissioned by Campspot between June 21 to July 7, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds' Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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Associate Editor


  1. Rob says:

    Yet many parents make a living by posting videos and pictures of their kids daily on social media. They use their kids to make money. What a disgrace.

  2. J West says:

    It’s disgusting. The kids of the iPhone addicted are being grossly neglected.

  3. KJ says:

    So important to engage with our kids — and set a good example!
    “We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching.” – Roy L. Smith

  4. Derek says:

    My dad never put down the newspaper or his favorite print magazine. I survived and even kind of admire my father’s dedication to “learning something.” I do agree that phones are different as when a kid gets one there are far worse distractions beyond reading, but the idea that parents have to spend more time with their kids is not necessarily true (in my opinion).

  5. Derf says:

    Some of these kids are probably better off, a lot of parents should not be.

  6. DAVID ZEEMAN says:

    There is no end to it
    it will get far worse
    Eventually the phones will be built into the human body there will be no escape
    the phones will own us and the networks direct us… We are now prisoners of our own technology and whoever owns and directs the phones directs the world

  7. Crass says:

    Our time with our kids is limited due to work/school/sleep schedules whereas access to our phones is not. We utilize these devices during work hours and after kids’ bedtime. As alarming as the click bait headline is, it makes sense that it would be the case. What is more important in this article is the good news – that parents recognize that screen time is destructive to relationships and childrearing – and are making efforts to dial it back and spend more meaningful hours with their children during the brief window we have to spend with them.