Screen time or quality time

Screen Time or Quality Time?

I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of parents have considered how much screen time their child should be allowed. I know parents who don’t allow it at all, but is there something positive to be had from it or is it just “rotting their brains”, as many a grandparent would say.

My daughter has been able to navigate around my phone since a very early age – the ease at which she picked up the swiping and pinch-to-zoom etc astonished me. It was second nature almost immediately and a huge contrast to how my dad uses his iPhone even now, tapping hard to register the touch and almost treating the keys like physical buttons.

I’ll be honest here – I think my wife and I have been a bit too relaxed when it comes to screen time, particularly phones and tablets (TV is different I think). Our daughter will play a game on my phone as we drive to the shops; she might have it when we put the shopping away, or even have it at mealtimes. We’ve discussed it recently and have decided to limit it after seeing the screen time stats on my iPhone. We’re replacing the time with good old conversation, and if it helps her to sort her sleep pattern out then that’d be a nice bonus!

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They’re designed to be addictive. Popping colours, smooth animations – all tiny dopamine hits for kids.

I don’t think it should be cut out completely (though I don’t judge those who do). These devices are an integral party of modern day life, like it or not, and I’d rather my daughter have the skills to operate them and be familiar with how they can be used for good – and aware that the opposite can apply (online bullying, social media, inappropriate content).

The UK’s four chief medical officers have recently (7 Feb) advised to ban mobile phones from dinner tables and bedtimes – I’m all for this.

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Guilty!

We’re hearing about each other’s days over meal times now, it’s a time I genuinely look forward to and it’s infinitely better than dipping our heads to our screens and only coming up for air to take the next bite.

I’d love to hear some thoughts on this – I’m particularly interested in structured rules you might have in place if indeed you have any.

About Mark Thomas


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