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Expert advice

15th May 2023

Screen time not necessarily bad for kids, says parenting expert


Are you constantly battling to get your phone out of your toddler’s hand?

Screen time for kids is a divisive issue amongst mums and dads but one parenting coach has said that it could actually be a good thing.

We’ve all heard of how screens affect everything from sleep to development but Livvy Gormally, a child behaviour expert, believes that certain shows and apps can encourage for learning.

“Many TV programmes and apps have educational content and can be an interesting and motivating way for many kids to learn,” she told Hello.

It could benefit parents too, she explained.

“If your toddler is exhausted from pre-school and needs to chill while you make lunch, an episode or two of their favourite programme may help them unwind but stay stimulated enough not to fall asleep.”

She warned that screen time shouldn’t be a substitute for one-to-one interaction with parents and other forms of learning, but urged parents not to beat themselves up over it.

“TV and screens are very much part of our lives and so our rules and attitudes towards (them) need to adapt to reflect this.

This time “does not need to be a solitary activity,” she added.

“Discussing programmes, talking about how and what they are playing can be a great way to interact with your kids.”

The conflicting opinions on screen time that we hear can be confusing – does it harm or help kids? – but Livvy’s points are part of a growing school of thought that screen time itself is no bad thing.

A recent report by the London School of Economics warned that limiting kids’ use of digital technology could hamper their opportunities in the future.

It also said that parents should seek out “high-quality age-appropriate media that can support their children to learn, create and participate.”

Meanwhile, the Children’s Commissioner in the UK has put together a ‘Digital Five-A-Day’ chart that recognises the benefits of using technology with steps to make sure kids are getting the best from their time online.

The five elements encourage kids to tap into their creativity with technology, be kind to and connect with one another online, be wary of their own screen use and the potential threats online and to make sure they’re getting some physical activity too.

The takeaway message from all of this is not that screen time in itself is good or bad but rather that the quality and quantity of the time is what matters.

We have to give snaps to Livvy for something else too – mums and dads need to ditch the guilt when it comes to screens.


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