Whether they are playing games or chatting to their friends, it’s not unusual to see children with a smartphone or tablet.
In fact a recent study showed many youngsters now own a mobile phone by the age of seven.
Meanwhile, watching televisions and playing video games on consoles also add to screen time.
Using these devices can offer children opportunities to learn and develop new skills at a touch of a button. However too much of it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.
But how can you tell if your child is getting too much screen time? And what can parents do to help youngsters put their phone down?
Internet Matters, an organisation set up to help keep children safe online, says you should look out for the following signs in your children:
Anxiety or stress when they are disconnected or separated from their phone
Lack of sleep
Lack of exercise
No willingness to visit friends
There has been a negative effect on school work
They are being deterred from pursuing other interests and hobbies
If you have noticed these signs in your child, there are ways you can help to manage their screen time. Internet Matters has the following tips and you can also find more advice here
Lead by example
Just like anything, children copy their parents’ actions and behaviour. If you set boundaries for your own screen, it will be easier for your kids to do the same.
Set boundaries with your kids
Get them involved in the process of setting age appropriate limits on how long they can spend online, at what times and on which platforms. Set up screen-free times or rooms where screens are out of sight and therefore more likely to be out of mind. Review these as they get older and give them the space to take greater responsibility for their screen use.
Ensure a healthy mix of screen activity
Make sure they have a good balance of screen activities that encourage creativity, learning and education, connecting with family and friends, as well as using devices for passively engaging with content.
Avoid using screen time as a reward
This will elevate the status of screen time above other activities and like using food as a reward may encourage children to simply want more.
Physical activity and sleep are really important
Make sure screens are not displacing these things by keeping screens out of bedrooms at bed time and that you are creating opportunities for your children to be active each day.