Almost half of parents say their children are addicted to screen time 6 years ago

Almost half of parents say their children are addicted to screen time

Almost half of parents say their children are addicted to using remote devices like smartphones and tablets, a new survey revealed yesterday.

Some 47 per cent of mums and dads believe their children spend too much time in front of screens, with 43 per cent saying this amounts to emotional dependency.

The poll of more than 1,000 parents carried out by ComRes for Channel 4 News found that children spend an average of almost three hours a day playing games, watching videos on YouTube or using social media.

Just over half fear this gives youngsters access to sexual content, while 52 per cent are worried about them seeing violent material or meeting strangers online.

Despite concerns, 63 per cent of parents admitted to "iParenting" - using screens as a distraction when they are busy or tired.

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The research also revealed that the majority of parents use their phones regularly in front of their children and use access to screens as a way of controlling their children's behaviour. Some 66 per cent say they use tablets, smartphones or computers when they are with their children, while 59 per cent use the devices as punishment or reward.

Professor Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics said parents were unsure who to turn to for guidance on the issue. "It feels to me a bit like with the internet, we’ve given our kids the tools but we haven’t given them a map," she said.

"Parents who understand the internet better and can advise their children better on how to make those judgments on what’s safe, what’s not safe, what’s interesting, what’s less exciting and so on, will have children who feel more confident and more skilled and better able to make judgments."

The explosion in cheap technology means young people have easier access to the internet than ever before (an analysis of Ofcom's 2015 data carried out by Channel 4 News shows 73 per cent of children in the UK have access to tablets alone); however, many parents believe the benefits of technology do outweigh the disadvantages.

As the parent of a (very active) toddler, I know all too well just how effective a screen can be when I need to distract for a few minutes, but I try not to rely on the technology technique TOO much. Easier said than done though at times.