1 In 4 Parents Struggle To Control Kids' Screen Time

7 January 2016
Screen Time For Kids: Are We Losing Control?

What's the one thing you most struggle with persuading your child to do? Brush teeth? Get on with their homework after a long day at school? Hop into bed?

None of the above, according to a new survey.

The BBC reports:

"Many UK parents find it easier to get their children to do homework, go to bed or have a bath than turn off their phones, laptops and TVs, a poll finds."

"A survey for the charity Action for Children found almost one in four mothers and fathers (23.1%) struggle to control their children's screen use."

In comparison, 17.5% of the parents surveyed said they had a struggle on their hands when it comes to getting children to go to bed, while just 10% said the same of getting kids to do their homework. And apparently most kids would rather wash than be parted from their screens and gadgets, as just 5% of parents said getting their children to have a bath was difficult.

This is especially contentious after Christmas for loads of us too. In the end we caved and (reluctantly) welcomed an Xbox One into our household on Christmas Day so suffice it to say I've been spending A LOT of time threatening to issue screen bans ever since.

Carol Iddon, Managing Director of Operations of Action for Children said:

"Technology is an often necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it's important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time. We know from our extensive work with families that strong relationships with parents build resilience in children, making them less susceptible to bullying or abuse outside the home, and encouraging them to speak to their parents about any fears or concerns."

Off the back of the research, Action for Children have published guidelines for persuading the family to 'unplug' from technology on a regular basis:

  1. Plan fun activities for the whole family that don't involve technology.

  2. Create a balance between technology use and other activities by creating a weekly schedule on the principle of an hour of 'energy in' (technology use) equalling an hour of 'energy out' (other activities).

  3. Tap into your own experience: when you were a child, what was your favourite game to play? Share these with your children.

  4. Identify the challenges your children enjoy in the video games they play and replicate them. Do they like games about sport? Encourage them to play the real deal in the park or go as a family to a local match. Are their favourite games puzzles or brain-teasers? Organise a board game night.

  5. Practice what you preach: when your children are having screen-free time, turn off your devices too. Don't waste the opportunity!

In my house number 5 is the real sticking point. I don't mind admitting that squeezing a freelance career around being a full-time mum to three kids means that I am invariably checking emails, responding to urgent requests from Editors, or trying to stay on top of my social media accounts - and that means I end up being a terrible role model when it comes to limiting screen time.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this story. Do you struggle to get your child to part with gadgets, and is screen time a bone of contention in your house? How do YOU deal with this issue? If you've got any concerns - or indeed any tips - on reducing the amount of time kids spend on screens, we'd love to hear them over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parents

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