More Days Out, Less Screen Time, Says Psychology Lecturer

22 January 2015

Less screen time

Do you 'bribe' your kids with technology? According to a psychology lecturer, you should be planning more days out instead.

“Parents need to incorporate technology into the play options available to children rather than into an item placed on a pedestal”, said Dr Katerina Kantartzis, Lecturer in Psychology at Birmingham City University, in response to new survey findings released by children research specialists Childwise.

Childwise’s 2015 Monitor Report on children’s media use has revealed a surge in the number of tablet computers being used by youngsters and suggests that parents use time on technology devices as a way of rewarding or punishing their children.

 “Technology features in any household these days and inevitably children want to use it."

 “Using a tablet as a reward or threat will make it more desirable to children, which is loosely based on the principle of scarcity, proposed by Cialdini in 1984. The more scarce something is, the more we want it." 

“Bribing or threatening with technology could actually make children want to use it even more. Parents need to ensure that they have enough activities available for their children and that they are planning regular days out to stop their young ones from wanting to use technology constantly. If enough activities are being planned, I’m sure we would find that the last thing children want to do is sit on a tablet for hours."

Personally, I'm not convinced that regular days out have much bearing on how much a child wants to use technology - most days out involve travelling, after all, and my kids are more likely to want to play on a DS or Kindle when they're stuck in the car for a while.

But I take the point that using technology as a reward or a punishment could be storing up trouble for the future. Still - 'No screen time unless you finish your peas' is surprisingly effective in my house, I have to admit.

What do you think? Do you use technology as a carrot to dangle under the noses of your kids, or do you agree that we shouldn't associate screen time with rewards or punishments? We'd love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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