More teens in Mexico feel distracted and “addicted” to their mobile devices than their counterparts in the US, Japan and the UK, according to a new academic study.

Entitled The New Normal: Parents, Teens and Mobile Devices in Mexico, the study is based on a survey of more than 1,200 Mexican teens and parents conducted by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Common Sense, a non-profit research organisation.

The research forms part of a wider mapping project that explores cross-cultural understanding of how digital media engagement impacts family life and follows similar surveys in the three other major markets.

Among the key findings, it emerged that half of teens in Mexico say they “feel addicted” to their mobile device, while 45% believe they spend too much time on them, compared with 39% in the US, 32% in the UK and 17% in Japan.

Three in four Mexican teens (77%) and parents (75%) say they feel distracted by their mobile device at least once a day, while teens (67%) and parents (71%) also report that they use their mobile device almost all the time. In addition, close to half of teens (47%) and parents (46%) check their device several times an hour.

And their urge to keep on top of messages and social media is even affecting their sleep, with around a third of teens (35%) and parents (34%) saying they wake up to check their device at least once during the night for something other than the time.

As seen from these results, the survey found little difference between teens and their parents in terms of the frequency with which they access their mobiles, yet parents remain concerned about their offspring, with two-thirds (64%) saying their teen spends too much time on them.

Notably, almost three-quarters of parents who say they feel “addicted” to their device have a child that feels “addicted” too, suggesting there are Mexican households where the entire family is more likely to feel addicted.

However, some are trying to do something about it with a third (33%) of Mexican parents and 29% of teens saying they “very often” try to reduce their time on mobile devices, compared with just 12% of parents and 7% of teens in the US.

“Parents today are facing unprecedented challenges navigating both their children’s and their own mobile device use,” said Willow Bay, Dean of USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

“And we’re seeing that in Mexico, for example, [where] over half of parents feel their teen’s mobile device use has negatively impacted family meals, conversations and activities.”

Sourced from USC Annenberg; additional content by WARC staff