MINNEAPOLIS (KDKA) – How much time do you think you spend every day on your phone?
Studies show most teenagers and adults wrongly guess about half the time they actually spend glued to the screen.
One family decided to put their phone usage to the test using a free app called “Moment” and every one of them was surprised to learn the results.
Between the busy demands of daily life, three teenagers and their parents can still find a few minutes to shoot hoops.
When it came to phone use, the Vascellaros — including mom and dad Amelia and Frank and 14-year-old twins Frankie and Joe, and 17-year-old Sam — all said they were surprised to learn how much time they were really spending on their devices each day.
“I honestly don’t feel like I’m on my phone a lot,” Amelia said.
To figure out just how much Frank and Amelia use their phones, they downloaded an app called “Moment” for a couple of weeks.
Their kids also participated, with some encouragement from mom.
“I downloaded the app so I didn’t get yelled at,” Sam said.
The free app tracks daily time spent on the phone and can even break down the minutes by individual apps.
They found the kids were on their phones for about one to four hours most days, with most of the time spent on social media or texting friends.
But, mom and dad were right there with them. Amelia usually spent about an hour a day on the phone, and Frank often spent more than four hours a day on the phone.
Dr. Kirsten Lind Seal sees phone usage come up a lot among families in her therapy practice.
“These mediate our relationships, these come between us and another person,” she said.
She says actually paying attention to how much time one spends on the phone is a good first step in deciding when to put it down.
“If we hear more than once, ‘Do you have to be on your phone right now? Can you please put your phone down? Did you hear what I said? Which is a big question among couples anyway smartphone or not,” she said.
She asks parents to encourage more face-to-face communication for teens and young adults, as they continue developing their social skills and emotional intelligence.
“We are really losing out on empathy when we spend a lot of time on our smartphones to communicate with other people,” she said.
The Vascellaro kids all say they’ve been on their phones less since downloading the app.
“It made me really conscious of how much time I spend on my phone so then I’ll go on the app if I think I’m on my phone for a while and see oh, 20 minutes? I better get off,” Frank said.
This family found out it’s never too late for anyone to learn.
“I’m really happy to hear them say they’re cognizant and more aware of how much they’re using it and I hope they will take that and put it into practice and say hey maybe I do need to dial it down a bit,” Frank said.