Parenting harder now than used to be 20 years ago

In the journey of parenting, preparing your child for the path to independence is a pivotal task. During the preteen years, typically spanning from ages 9 to 12, children undergo a critical phase of cognitive and emotional development.

Parenting has never been an easy task and has become harder with the advent of smart phones and social media. Two thirds of the Americans have said that parenting was harder than it was 20 years ago, according to a new study.

Majority of the parents (about 66 per cent) in the United States, who had at least one child under the age of 18, but who may also have an adult child or children, said that parenting was harder today than it was 20 years ago, said the Pew Research Center survey.

Most of the Americans attributed this hard task to technology. The survey also notes that only seven per cent had parenting easier. About 26 per cent believed that parenting was the same as it used to be 20 years ago. The survey was held among 3,640 US parents.

When 26 per cent of the parents said that the impact of digital technology had worsened the situation, 21 per cent said that it was social media that made the task harder. Changing morals and values and costs related to raising a child were other factors that made parenting difficult today, the survey said.

Mobile devices

Most of the parents are worried about their children using mobile devices. Almost all the children have access to mobiles and the parents are in a dilemma if the children should use smarty phones and tablet computers. About 73 per cent of the parents said that the children can have their own phone only after they have reached at least the age of 12. About 45 per cent opined that children between the ages of 12 and 14 can own smartphones. Another 28 per cent say it was acceptable only between 15 and 17 years. However, only 22 per cent thought it was ok for children under 12 years of age to have a smart phone.

With respect to tablet, the survey found that 65 per cent of parents were for providing the children with a tablet before they reached 12 years of age.

The Pew Research centre said that 71 per cent of the parents said smartphone use by children aged 11 or younger will hurt their ability to learn effective social skills. They also think that children’s ability to fare in school will also be affected.


Parents of children (11 years and younger) say that their child watched videos on YouTube. Among them, 53 per cent say that their child watched videos daily and 35 per cent said their child watched these videos on the platform several times a day.

With respect to video sharing sites, 97 per cent of the parents whose child watched videos on YouTube say it kept their child entertained. Meanwhile 88 per cent said that it helped them learn new things, 75 per cent said the platform exposed their child to different cultures.

However, a majority of the parents are worried about the types of videos that surface on YouTube. About 46 per cent of the parents said that children who were 11 years old and younger had come across videos in YouTube that were inappropriate for their age.


A good majority of the parents surveyed said that they were concerned about their child ever being the target of online predators, accessing sexually explicit content, accessing violent content online or ever being bullied or harassed online.

The survey found that 86 per cent of parents of a child aged five to 11 years limited the time of day or length of time their child can use screens. About three quarters of parents having children in the above age group check the websites the child visits. They also check on the mobile apps they use and even use parental controls to restrict seeing the screens. About half of the parents said that they looked at call records or text messages on mobiles used by the child.

Struggles and experiences with smartphones and social media

About 56 per cent of parents who have at least one minor child, but who may also have an adult child or children, reported that their child spent too much time on their smartphone. Majority of the parents also said that their phone can get in the way of spending quality time with their children.


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