Action for Children’s latest research has found that nearly a quarter of parents struggle to get their children to “unplug” and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens.
When asked which behaviour they found most difficult to control in their children, more parents said they struggled to limit technology-based activity (23 per cent) than get children to eat healthily (19 per cent), go to bed (18 per cent), or do their homework (10 per cent).
Parents in the North East are leading the charts with 31.3 per cent, followed by Northern Ireland (29.6 per cent) and Yorks and Humberside (28.7 per cent).
Carol Iddon, Managing Director of Operations of Action for Children, said: “Technology is an often necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it’s important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time.
“We know from our extensive work with families that strong relationships with parents build resilience in children, making them less susceptible to bullying or abuse outside the home, and encouraging them to speak to their parents about any fears or concerns.”
In light of our research findings, Action for Children have developed five top tips to help parents get the whole family to unplug and play:
One of the best ways to maintain an open dialogue with your children about their lives is to have fun with them. Not only is this enjoyable for the whole family, but many children are more likely to confide in you in a relaxed, low-pressure setting.
1. Plan fun activities for the whole family that don’t involve technology.
2. Create a balance between technology use and other activities by creating a weekly schedule on the principle of an hour of ‘energy in’ (technology use) equalling an hour of ‘energy out’ (other activities).
3. Tap into your own experience: when you were a child, what was your favourite game to play? Share these with your children.
4. Identify the challenges your children enjoy in the video games they play and replicate them. Do they like games about sport? Encourage them to play the real deal in the park or go as a family to a local match. Are their favourite games puzzles or brain-teasers? Organise a board game night.
5. Practice what you preach: when your children are having screen-free time, turn off your devices too. Don’t waste the opportunity!