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Survey: Pandemic Blamed For Screen Addiction

A new survey shows how the pandemic has changed online behaviors at home. Nearly 1 in 3 adults say they’ve become addicted to their screens.

More than half of Americans surveyed online told the Harris Poll the amount of time they spend in front of screens has increased significantly — and it’s not just because of virtual learning or working from home. They reported spending an average of six hours a day in front of screens — that’s in addition to screen time related to work or school. 

More than 65% say that’s too much. Nearly 40% say it’s made them less physically active and 20% say it’s negatively impacted their mental health. The Harris Poll surveyed 1,003 U.S. adults between May 20 and June 8, 2021.

The U.S. findings come from Tempe-based  Norton LifeLock’s Cyber Safety Insights Report, a global study examining consumers’ at-home online behaviors.

Other findings shared in a press release include:

  • Millennials and Gen Z feel the negative impact of increased screen time the most. One in four U.S. adults ages 18-39 (25%) say that increased screen time has made them feel lonelier than ever before compared to those aged 40 or older (13%). Close to one in four (23%) say the additional screen time has made them feel bad about their body or hurt their self-esteem.
  • Despite being aware of security threats, consumers are more reactive when it comes to their safety. Looking from preventative to reactive, though one in five device owners (20%) have not taken actions to protect themselves and their devices, if one of their connected devices were hacked, the overwhelming majority (87%) say they would take action, most commonly changing the security settings or passwords (51%).
  • Only around one in three deny permissions to apps on devices (35%), change the default passwords on devices (33%), regularly update device passwords (30%) or install cybersecurity software to their devices (29%).
  • More than three in five adults (63%) admit to using personal information in their password(s), and only about two in five consumers who own a Wi-Fi router change their router password more than once a year. Just 39% of consumers who own a Wi-Fi router change their router password more than once a year, with close to three in 10 (29%) admitting they have never changed the password or are not sure how often the password is changed.
  • Americans think conversations about online safety should start young. With nine in 10 (90%) believing most children are addicted to screens, more than four in 5 Americans (84%) feel it’s absolutely essential or very important for parents to teach their children about cyber safety and the large majority (94%) say these conversations are more important now than ever before.
  • Still, whether these conversations happen or not, more than three-quarters (78%) concede it is difficult for parents to keep children safe when they are online.
As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.