Screen-time Should we be worried and how do we manage it?

I realise that I am far too reliant on tablets and screen time with my children. I constantly feel guilt about the amount of time the boys spend on their tablets or xbox. However, I also know that they spend lots of time outdoors in sporting activities or at the park. I feel like we have a balance but I am not sure if that balance is correct. Here is some information from Legal & General that might help to give some more information.

Not long ago parents were worried that their children were spending too much time in front of a TV screen when they could be outside or getting on with homework. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles and smart watches have made screens harder to avoid than ever before and the temptation for children (and adults alike) to spend a lot of their free time on a smart device can be too hard to fight.

Screen-time Should we be worried

Survey by Legal & General

With all these new devices comes new worries for parents. A recent survey by Legal & General found that almost half of parents are worried that their children are too reliant on phones and tablets, with a similar number believing screen time is affecting their child’s schoolwork. But are we right to be worried?

Existing studies paint a more nuanced picture. For instance, a 2017 Unicef report on the effects of digital technology on children found that:

  • it often had a positive impact on social relationships
  • its influence on mental well-being was minimal compared to family and socio-economic factors, though it can be a source of bullying and social pressures
  • no direct connection between screen time and lack of exercise was found, other than children who were already relatively inactive were more likely to spend more time using digital devices

Official NICE Guidance

So it’s not all bad news, but, if you are really concerned, perhaps it’s time to take steps to limit screen use for the whole family. The official UK guidance on screen time, according to the National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE), is to limit it to two hours of leisure time per day for children of all ages.

Sometimes, keeping your children to no more than two hours of screen time a day may seem like a big ask. To help, here are a few ways to keep your children’s screen time under control.

  • Add screen-free family times to your daily routine
  • Set a good example by being mindful of your own screen use
  • Make other fun options – colouring in, reading, painting, puzzles, board games – easily available
  • Make use of parental control technology apps such as Screen Time which allows you to monitor and control their use

 What tips do you have for staying on top of your children’s screen time? What about your own?

This is a collaborative post with Legal & General.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

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