Step away from the phone folks, it’s not just your kids who have screen addiction. Here’s why the kids’ rules need to apply to the whole family.
Parents should ban kids from taking mobile phones to the dinner table, and from using their devices bedtime, say recent UK health recommendations on technology.
This makes sense. Not only because looking at a device when someone’s trying to chat to you is, of course, downright rude and interferes with family time. But spilling Bolognese sauce on your screen? Ugh it’s a pain to get off.
Jokes aside, these guidelines are part of eight pieces of advice released by the UK’s chief medical officers to help parents manage their kids’ use of technology. They also include advising children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention, and making sure kids take a break from screens every two hours by getting up and being active.
Addicted to technology
But parents, aren’t we missing something here? It seems the kids aren’t the only ones burying their faces in their screens.
This even has a name ‘technoference’, coined by US researchers who studied the affects of parental phone addiction on kids. The study of around 200 families found that 40 per cent of mums and 32 per cent of dads admitted to some form of phone addiction – including the constant urge to check messages, thinking about incoming calls or texts frequently, or using phones excessively in general.
The research found that kids of parents who spend too much time on their smartphones are more likely to have behavioural problems later on, including being hyperactive or having tantrums. This was associated more so with mum’s smartphone use than dad’s.
Time for a digital detox
Kids love hanging out with family – we know from our weekly Trendspotter interviews and Beano.com analytics that kids cherish times when they can ‘lockdown’ with their relatives, be that on a Sunday night or during events such as Christmas. (Sign up to our fortnightly Bang on Trend report, the only up-to-date tracker on kids trends right now at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Research from Family, Kids & Youth shows that 43% of 7-10 year olds say parents use devices when they’re not allowed to use theirs. And a whopping 61% of 7-10 year olds think using devices get in the way of families talking to each other.
So c’mon parents, don’t let those holiday pics posted by a woman you worked with eight years ago, or the latest footie scores get in the way of family bonding. Or that’s three days without your mobile phone (oh, four if you’re going to argue …).
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Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from Beano.com – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids. Sign up at email@example.com.
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