Photo/IllutrationOne in five Japanese teens have felt less important to their parents than their smartphones, according to a survey. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

One in five Japanese teens have felt less important to their parents than their smartphones, according to a survey by the University of Southern California.

That ratio was significantly higher than the corresponding figure in a similar survey taken in the United States.

“Not only teens, but also their parents are becoming increasingly Internet-addicted, so parents should discuss with their children how the Internet should be used,” said Willow Bay, a USC professor of communication and journalism.

The online survey, conducted jointly by USC and nonprofit Common Sense Media in Japan in April, covered 600 junior high school or high school smartphone-owning children, and their parents.

The results showed the parents were using smartphones or tablet computers for an average of two hours and 56 minutes a day, whereas the corresponding figure for their children was four hours and 18 minutes.

Fifty-two percent of the parents said they feel that their teens spend too much time on their smartphones, officials said.

Meanwhile, 25 percent of the children said they feel that their parents get distracted by their smartphones and do not pay attention to them when they are together. And 20 percent of the teens said they have sometimes felt that their mother or father thinks their smartphone is more important than they are.

A similar survey taken last year in the United States showed that parents there were more addicted to the Internet than their Japanese counterparts, but only 6 percent of U.S. children said they have sometimes felt that smartphones are more important to their parents than they are, the officials added.

One explanation for the discrepancy between the findings from the two nations was that children in Japan are perhaps being patient, as they dare not ask their Internet-addicted parents to listen to them, according to James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media who also teaches at Stanford University.

Steyer said households should make setting rules on Internet use a priority.