STUDY: Majority of U.S. Parents Feel Guilty About Kids’ Screen Time Staff Staff

Parents are often guilt-ridden creatures. We fret about what our kids are eating, who they’re hanging out with, how much time we spend with them, and these days: how much screen time is too much?

Like most parenting questions, the answer isn’t simple. Scientists and psychologists are only recently beginning to understand the effects of screen time on kids as well as adults. But one thing we can measure is this feeling of guilt that parents have around it, given all of the chatter and recommendations around the topic. 

We surveyed 670 parents and asked them about their feelings of guilt about screen time for their kiddos.  Here are the results:

Survey Findings

  • We asked 670 parents if they felt guilty about how much screen time their kids were getting. A majority (53.7%) said they felt very or somewhat guilty.
  • Less than half (46.3%) of the parents we surveyed said they “Don’t feel guilty about screen time at all.”
  • Moms and Dads were equally feeling guilty about screen time (49% vs. 51%, respectively) well within the margin of error of our survey (+4%/-4%).
  • Research on screen time and children is obviously very new and somewhat limited. There are resources and strategies available online to help parents manage their kid’s screen time.

Majority of American Parents Feel Some Guilt About Kids’ Screen Time, While Others Don’t at All

While most American parents in our survey feel either somewhat or very guilty about their kid’s screen time, a large number, over 46% in our poll, said they’re not feeling guilty at all. It could be because they’ve already managed their kid’s screen time to an acceptable level for their family or not, it’s hard to tell from just this poll.

But the fact that more than half of parents have this feeling of guilt on the matter means it’s a huge issue for many, many parents out there.

Mothers and Fathers Feel Equally Guilty About Screen Time

In our survey, it was almost exactly split evenly between moms and dads who say they felt guilty versus not guilty (49% to 51%). This is well within the margin of error of our poll.

Perhaps one parent in the family is feeling this guilt while the other is not. It’s a tricky situation to navigate and those split households aren’t visible numerically in our survey.

Screen Time Resources for Parents

The science around screen time is new and developing. But some conclusions can be drawn, even now, particularly around limiting screen time for babies and very young children. We encourage you to peruse through some of the latest research and scientific thinking on the subject to help you decide how guilty you should or should not be feeling about your children’s screen time regiment:

Survey Methodology:

We partnered with Google Surveys to ask 670 (n=670, conducted Feb. 27 to Mar. 1, 2021) parents what their level of “guilt” was around screen time for kids. More precisely, parents were asked: Do you have feelings of guilt about the amount of screen time your kids get? Google also collects information about gender and location in addition to their response. Respondents were from all over the country with an attempt to obtain a representative slice of the average American parent. Google estimates that this poll has a margin of error of about plus or minus four points (+4%/-4%), based on the representation of the sampling compared to the actual demographics of the nation.

About the Authors

The staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.