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18th Jun 2022

Children are spending more time on screens than ever but are they picking up this addiction from us?

Melissa Carton

I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

I don’t know how many times my child has gotten cranky at home and in public places, particularly on public transport and I’ve whipped out my phone and produced Peppa Pig.

It’s an easy fix to an oncoming temper tantrum and lets be honest sometimes as a parent you just need five minutes.

Unfortunately many studies have shown that the more time our children spend online the more it starts to affect their mental health but in the modern era of smartphones, smart TVs and even smart watches, is it too hard to say no?

Even in myself I notice a change when I unplug for awhile particularly if I’m somewhere that doesn’t have good internet access.

We often go to Achill Island and even the phone signal isn’t great but I kind of like it that way. It means we spend more time chatting, playing board games and going for walks on the beach.

About the only thing I use my phone for on those trips is capturing family photos.

Still, as adults it’s important we lead by example and I know I’m extremely prone to having my phone in my hand, so how do I expect my two-year-old or seven-year-old to put technology down if I can’t?

Using screens for too long can affect how we sleep and how we process information which is particularly harmful for young children whose brains are still developing.

So how do we stop? The answer is gradually.

Screens aren’t the enemy, they just become that way when we abuse them by using them too often.

A little bit of screen time is ok for children but we need to make sure that they are getting mental stimulation from other activities, like outdoor play, puzzles and drawing too.

When it comes to encouraging our children to do this we have to lead by example and start to put the phones down ourselves and show them that there is life outside of technology.