ABC News takes a closer look at the impact of screen time, technology and social media on families across the U.S. in the two ABC News special, ScreenTime: Diane Sawyer Reporting, airing Friday, May 3 (8:00 – 10:00 p.m. EDT).
Today, American adults spend the equivalent of 49 days a year on their phone and tablets. For six months, Diane Sawyer and her team traveled across the country talking to families, teachers, doctors and even tech insiders to pursue questions, answers and solutions. From coast to coast, a question: People love the wonders of technology, but have they become too consumed with the little screens in their pockets?
• After sending out a call to families across America, Sawyer and the team received messages from parents including a mom from the Midwest who said she felt so disconnected from her kids who were always on screens. ABC News brought in cameras and documented her family’s use of social media throughout a weekend, and therapists from the renowned Gottman Institute guided the family toward change.
• The report highlights experiments including one showing the potential impact on babies and toddlers when parents are on their screens for only two minutes; actors posing as job candidates who are distracted by their phones, and how this behavior creates distrust in hiring managers; and college students feeling pressure to retouch and edit photos for social media in an endless quest for likes and comments, and its effect on self-esteem.
• As games like Fortnite and Overwatch explode in popularity, the average teen gamer now spends almost 12 hours a week playing video games. How do parents know that their kids are in trouble? The special reviews the latest research and interviews top experts to help guide parents through this highly charged minefield.
• Studies have found that students do better when phones are not a distraction in the classroom. ABC News visits schools across the country to report on the variety of solutions that help students learn without the distraction of technology.
• 70% of teens use social media multiple times a day. The report shows new research that suggests there can be a hidden psychological toll from this selfie habit.
• The special talks to experts who say tech companies design habit-forming apps to encourage users to stay on the screen and interviews experts about online privacy, and the buying, sharing and selling of personal data.
• Apple CEO Tim Cook sits down with Sawyer to talk about a range of topics, addressing families’ concerns about screens, and what he calls a crisis in online privacy.
The ABC News team searches for practical solutions for families. “ScreenTime: Diane Sawyer Reporting” airs Friday, May 3 (8:00 – 10:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.
David Sloan is senior executive producer. Claire Weinraub is senior producer.