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We were recently sent a new piece of research by Beko as part of the ‘Eat like a Pro’ campaign, which we have had the pleasure of working with them on, relating to the impact of too much screen time and how it affects our children’s behaviour. I found some of the statistics very interesting, some relatable and others not so.
The research is as follows –
- 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.
- 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.
Kirsty and I are very aware that we are raising a son within a technological age and that technology in all its various forms and glory will play a huge part in M’s upbringing and subsequently his adult life. We try to embrace technology and integrate it into his life as much as we can, especially for home study.
There are so many different resources out there to help with study, especially reading, spelling and mathematics and we most certainly utilise these resources to help him. M is also very interested in marine life and is always asking us both questions about certain fish or marine mammals, which is a subject we just do not know the answers to, so we like to watch documentaries such as Blue Planet 2 and Human Planet or we ask our trusted study partner Google to help us.
I love how technology allows us to explore the world and allows us to engage with our son. So I can’t really relate to the 26% of parents who suggest technology affects grades or their study. M is also very young at the moment and hasn’t taken any key exams as yet, but with his Key Stage 1 SAT’s looming at the end of this year, we will be eager to see the results.
As well as study we also use screen time for fun. Kirsty absolutely adores technology, whether it be the latest smart phone/tablets or the latest home tech and is very much into gaming. This enthusiasm for gaming has been passed down to M and they both share a rather lovely bond over the latest games or upgrades, which I know absolutely nothing about, but I just adore watching them sitting together whilst they play.
We also love to watch silly videos on YouTube as a family and we have a lot of jokes we share together. Some of our cherished moments are of us all belly laughing over a cat video or two. I think there are a lot of benefits to screen time. So I also cannot relate to the 45% of parents who say they find it harder to get on with their children as a result of screen time.
I think what may affect a child’s behaviour is the type of content they are watching or participating in on the screen. This is very much the case with M and we’ve noticed that if he’s watching something which contains mild violence or fighting, such as Ninjago, which is a very innocent programme that he will try to mimic the behaviour, which results in an increase in hyperactivity, therefore we try to keep an eye on this as much as possible and ask him to take himself away from the television or tablet.
That being said, I do agree children spend more time sitting on screens nowadays than outside playing or exercising and with the winter months homing in, this issue will only increase. I read a shocking statistic from the research, published by the World Health Organisation, that 70 million children are expected to be obese by 2025. 70 million!!
I wholeheartedly agree that M’s behaviour greatly improves when his mind is stimulated via play and exercise because he is moving his body and engages more, purely because he is using his imagination. I have often seen M watching the screen but not actually engaging in what he’s watching and day dreaming, which isn’t healthy. At this point, it time to turn it off.
Although my attitude towards screen time seems very positive we do set limitations and control the time he spends on his tablets or playing games.
We have two main rules that we try to abide by regarding screen time:
All technology and screens are off limits on school mornings
All technology and screens are off limits during all meal times
As a formally obese child and adult myself I truly believe my own issues were due to convenience food, poor education regarding a balanced diet and my mental attachment to food. I am not suggesting my mum was to blame for my weight issues as she was a single mother to two children and worked incredibly hard to ensure we had a decent upbringing and convenience food probably helped her a great deal. I don’t think you can look at this research at face value, as there are so many other important factors that should be taken into consideration when looking into the cause of child obesity and not just a poor diet and minimal exercise.
Of course I want to ensure M grows up with a positive and healthy attitude towards meal times and we are both very lucky to have the time to educate him properly. I do agree that excessively watching screens has an impact on a child’s behaviour but then I think a vital part in modern parenting is to know when to tell your children when enough is enough.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash