Phone, kettle, black: Is your screen use setting a bad example to your kids?
Weblog: Children’s media consumption is influenced by their parents, researchers find
Setting limits on your kids’ screen time won’t work if your own head is constantly buried in a screen. Photograph: Getty Images
It’s not just setting limits on screen time and monitoring use that impacts upon a child’s media consumption; according to researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada, a parent’s own use of screens – during meals and while spending time with their kids – has just as much of an influence.
In other words, telling your child to put away the iPad at the dinner table won’t work if you are prone to checking your phone while eating.
There already have been several studies on how parents influence their children’s use of screens, but these have mostly focused on television, not taking into account the recent explosion in use of mobile devices, and they focused solely on the mother’s role.
The University of Guelph data shows that a father’s use of mobile devices in the presence of his children is just as influential as that of the mother.
One of the reasons this study was carried out, say the researchers, is that there is a link between increased screen time – with reduced activity – and child obesity, giving cause for parents to look at how much time their child is spending per day on a laptop, phone or tablet device.