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.
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.
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
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.
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?