Another Youth Council member, who is in 11th grade, thinks “we’d all feel a lot better if we were on it less,” they said. “When I lost my phone … I didn’t have a phone for a week, and that week was amazing. Just not having a phone, it takes this weight off of you. It almost sets you free in a way.”

Duffy said excessive phone use and the pressure to respond, which some teens experienced, can be anxiety-provoking and stressful even if teens aren’t aware of it, adding to this is the fact that teens’ notifications aren’t just from friends, social media, sports or celebrity gossip, but also school shootings and other tragic events.

The findings make “abundantly clear that teens are struggling to manage their phone use, which is taking a serious toll on their ability to focus and overall mental health,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, in the news release.

Adults could do more to help teens and children develop healthier habits for phone use, experts said. “Young people need more support from family members and educators, as well as clear guardrails from the technologists who are intentionally designing these devices to be addictive, at the expense of kids’ well-being,” Steyer said.

“I encourage parents and teenagers that I work with to turn off notifications and only look at them a few times a day,” Duffy said. “For most teenagers, that’s between four or five times. Any less frequently, and they get anxious that they might be missing out on something that is relevant to them.”

The report also included participants’ insights on how they try to balance their phone use, such as avoiding picking up their phone at all during school hours lest they inadvertently spend more time on it than they should. Some teens also use “do not disturb” features — which are often customizable — that collect notifications for users to check later without having to hear or see alerts immediately.

“For me, my parents were concerned about my phone usage time for a while, but any time they tried to put the restriction, it didn’t really work out that well,” one participant in 10th grade said. “But when I put on my own restrictions … they have been lasting a lot longer and actually worked.”

Some of the teens whose phone use disrupted their sleep schedule started putting their cell in another room at night. In the report, Common Sense Media encouraged parents to help teens consider which apps keep them alert before bed and which ones calm them down, so that if phone use happens before bed, it’s at least a less harmful form. For kids who use their phones to decompress after school, parents can also help them learn to achieve this in other ways.

“Our brains operate at their best when the cognitive load — or the amount of information the brain is working to process — is low,” said Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and chief medical officer at Modern Health, a mental health care platform for companies supporting their employees, via email.