Are parents’ fears over teens’ cellphones hyped?

Washington: A new study has suggested that the parents’ fears about their teenagers’ heavy use of cell phones and social media may be exaggerated.

Duke University’s Candice Odgers said that each generation worries about how young people are using their time, adding “we see young people constantly on their phones and assume ill effects, but much of the research to date tells a more positive story.”

Teenagers’ online lives closely resemble their experiences, connections and risks in the offline world, and cellphone use alone poses few entirely new dangers, Odgers said.

The review weighs commonly expressed fears regarding teenagers’ use of mobile devices against existing research evidence. It calls for more rigorous research to evaluate how these quickly evolving technologies are impacting young people’s lives.

But, contrary to the early Internet age, when a small minority of teens was online and heavy Internet use was a sign of offline problems, now, teens’ online worlds mirror their offline lives.

The study appears in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.