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British Parents Struggling to Enforce Mobile Device Screen Time Rules

Dominique Adams


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A new report has revealed that three in five British parents worry they are setting a bad example to their children by being on their own devices for too long. 

A new Norton survey has revealed that more than three-quarters (77%) of British parents said they felt guilty for setting a bad example to their children by spending too much time online.

While four in ten (42%) admitted they have been told off by their offspring for spending too much time on their devices. These figures highlight an ongoing problem within many UK families who struggle to enforce healthy screen time routines.

Surveying almost 7,000 parents from across Europe and the Middle East (EMEA) with children aged between five and 16, the My First Device report examines the issues facing the first generation of “digital-first” parents.

Modern Parents Facing New Digital Challenges

Parents of this new generation are facing issues that previously simply did not exist. Nick Shaw, vice president and general manager, Norton, EMEA, said of the struggles of modern parenting: “It isn’t easy. The old challenges of getting children to eat their greens, get to bed on time and do their homework are all still there, but there is an added layer of technology that parents have to navigate.

“Unlike their children, most parents today didn’t grow up with connected devices like smartphones and tablets, which leaves them struggling with making and enforcing screen time rules.”

The survey found that kids desire screen time than they do sugar and sweets. They also prefer to spend their time glued to their devices rather than play outside, on average spending three hours of leisure time on their mobile devices everyday, almost an hour longer than the time spent outside playing.

This strong desire for screen time is an indication of what parents are up against. However, most parents admitted to being their own worst enemy as they too struggle to enforce these same limits on themselves.

Parents Weighing up the Pros and Cons of Mobile Tech

More than half of parents believe such devices can help encourage children’s problem solving and learning skills (60%), creativity (53%) and happiness (53%), with over three-quarters (78%) saying that children being in charge of their own devices teaches them responsibility.

But many still have reservations over the negative impact of device usage; 43% say they worry mobile screen time negatively affects their child’s quality of sleep, 40% feel they are detrimental to energy levels, 38% indicated they felt it damaged their children’s social skills, and 32% felt it was bad for their mental health.

Shaw commented: “Parents clearly see the benefit of mobile devices for their children, but also want to enforce healthy screen routines as they see the disadvantages smartphones and tablets can have on sleep and mental health.

“We all should be mindful of how much time we spend online and tackle the issue of excessive screen time, with parents setting a good example.

“We found that more than half (58%) of parents in Britain already set a ‘tech free’ times or days in their house when everyone stays away from their gadgets, which offers a great opportunity to reassess our dependence on devices.”

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Dominique Adams

Marketing Content Manager, Trickle

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