How managing screen time can improve your child’s behaviour

Gaming

When my older kids were young, mobile phones and the internet were in their infancy and the only screen time we had to manage was how may times they had watched The Little Mermaid or Lion King on VHS that week.

Now that I am also a parent in the digital age, battles over screen time and devices have become a depressing part of family life, and knowing how much is too much has become a moving target.

I remember battles with the teens over doing homework on the PC rather than using books and a good old pen and paper, but now even the little ones are assigned homework using Mathletics or Purple Mash which relies on the use of a tablet to complete.

I don’t know about you, but I find that if I allow my kids any longer than an hour on their devices, their behaviour gets worse and when I ask them to come off, all I get is “I am just finishing this level” or “Just one more minute” (which turns in 20 very easily) and then it’s another battle to stop the kids flipping from games console, to iPad, to TV.

Gaming

New research from Beko as part of their Eat Like a Pro Campaign confirms my thoughts on screen time:

  • Nearly 40% (39) of parents say their children’s behaviour gets worse after they’ve spent time in front of a screen
  • More than three in five (63%) parents say this change happens in less than two hours
  • 45% of parents say they find it harder to get on with their children after they’ve had screen time
  • One in four (26%) parents say their children’s grades have suffered as a result of screen time
  • One in four (25%) parents say their child has more screen time than time spent playing or exercising outside
  • 83% of parents say their child’s behaviour is better if they’ve been active/exercising rather than having screen time

We have fairly strict rules on technology in our house which limit the times the kids can use it, but like most children they frequently try to push the boundaries and now the winter is setting in, they will naturally be spending more time indoors rather than outside as it is getting dark when we get home from school.

I am lucky that our school is very hot on extra curricular activities and the kids all enjoy after school clubs including playball, bouldering (climbing) and parkour which helps keep them active.

Isaac and Eliza also both swim with a swim club and swim at least 4 hours per week, whilst Sebastian also enjoys a swimming lesson too.

Isaac and Eliza

How we manage screen time

  • No screen time in the morning before school
  • Trade off: they are allowed one hour of screen time for one hour of exercise
  • Take regular breaks where they read, do homework or play games and have no more than 2 hours per day (I sometimes extend this at weekends)
  • Keep technology out of their bedrooms
  • Switch off all technology at least one hour before bedtime
  • We get them outside – they may moan before we leave the house, but guaranteed they will have a whale of a time once we are there

Bike Ride with the Kids

Managing their diet

Another part of the Beko research was about managing the kids diet and whether there is any correlation between that and their behaviour.

I have to admit I never really thought much about how diet affected their behaviour until we went on holiday one year and they had free access to as much fizzy drink as they could get their hands on. Lets just say their behaviour was atrocious, so now we only have fizzy drinks as a special treat.

Beko’s research says:

  • More than half (55%) of parents say their child’s behaviour changes dependant on their diet
  • Worst foods for causing bad behaviour as rated by parents are sweets (62%), fizzy drinks (59%), chocolates (47%), energy drinks (39%) and crisps (21%)
  • More than two-thirds (67%) say a good diet is as important as a night’s sleep

My kids have been through the fussy stage and whilst there are still foods they won’t eat, they are starting to become more adventurous with the flavours they will try as they get older.  Thankfully they are just as happy to eat fruit as a snack as having a bar of chocolate, so again sweets are rationed so they are a treat, rather than a daily must-have.

Cherry Eyes

If you are struggling to get the kids eating healthily, the Beko have some fun, easy to prepare recipes for kids to get them involved in helping in the kitchen as well as eating better. Plus, you can also make them their very own message from their favourite Barcelona football player for eating their meal, just like this one:

What do you think of this research, do you struggle with screen time and ensuring the kids eat healthily?

12 thoughts on “How managing screen time can improve your child’s behaviour

  1. Mayah Camara says:

    I think this is amazing. It can be so easy to have screens and devices occupy your child’s spare time and in some cases even act as a bit of a babysitter. I love that you are not only creating a healthy balance but sharing this with everyone else x

  2. Tash says:

    It sounds like you are doing a great job of managing screen time. Its so hard to find that perfect balance sometimes.

  3. I allow my kids have access to their tablets for about an hour a day after home work has been done. Great tips here.

  4. I completely agree with this whole post. We find if our son is playing a PlayStation game or watching short, intense programmes like Blaze, PJ Masks or Paw Patrol his behaviour deteriotes quickly and getting him to turn off the TV is a battle. So we implement timers for the PlayStation and I prefer him watching Curious George as its a much calmer programme. Disney films are usually a good go-to screen watch. His tablet he only gets for flights and doesn’t argue over that.

    As for diet, 20 minutes after having some sugar in the form of sweets or chocolate and he’s bouncing. He rarely gets them so you can noticeably see when he’s had something very sugary. So I completely agree with the research you’ve outlined. Interesting to know we’re not the only parents who struggle with dealing with our child after too much screen time at home!

  5. Afshan Nasim says:

    I so agree, screen time should be limited. It is important for children to do other activities, so well done on this aspect.
    Afshan Nasim recently posted…iPhone Xs Max Camera Review in ShoreditchMy Profile

  6. Nadia says:

    These are excellent tips. We are at the fussy stage with food atm although my 3 year old is not too bad. We are trying to limit screen time but he actually prefers play (long may that continue)!

  7. It’s so important for kids to get involved with making their meals – it really helps my daughter eat it all afterwards! We haven’t quite reached the screen time arguments yet, however, I can see how easily it can happen as she does get engrossed in the iPad if allowed it
    Lauren Porter recently posted…How To Update a Bathroom: No Renovation Needed!My Profile

  8. I was much like your first kids, when I grew up the internet wasn’t as commonplace and we had to fight for the computer. I do agree that kids shouldn’t need to have so much screen time x

  9. We have a ban on tablets during the week and their phones are strictly for the school runs.

  10. Laura Dove says:

    I totally agree with this and have seen it in friends children who haven’t had any limits on screen time. I encourage my children to do anything other than screen time, although we do have lots of educational apps I allow them to use.

  11. We’ve only just started to let Alice use a tablet, but this is very limited a couple of times a week. They never ask for one and aren’t really aware of them that much.

  12. Emma says:

    This post really resonates with me. Like yourself my older 2 didn’t have access to all the technology that my younger two have and I find that it’s so hard to control how much they use it. With homework being set online and learning programs like Reading Eggs online it’s hard to say you’ve had your hour on a device when it’s been spent learning but then again, I find my 9 year old will sneakily start playing games or watching YouTube as soon as he’s finished. My older 2 it’s a whole different ball game, trying to get them off their phones is a nightmare. If it’s not YouTube then it’s snapchat, telegram, Instagram etc it’s one big bloomin headache.
    I totally agree with diet being a factor in behaviour, there are certain foods that are strictly reserved for special occasions because I know that they either start bouncing off the walls, get moody or tired.
    Thanks for a great article!

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