How Should We Get Children to Turn Off Their Fun Machines?

By Gary Cutlack on at

We are, as a nation, finding it difficult to say "no" to children when it comes to them staring at screens, with a survey finding that a substantial proportion of mums and dads are having a nightmare of controlling the amount of time their kids spend basking in the comforting blue light of technology.

The charity Action for Children asked parents of kids which activity they struggle the most with scheduling, with limiting the use of "technology-based" activities apparently causing stress for 23 per cent of parents. That makes turning off gadgets officially more troubling for today's kids than doing their homework, with more the traditional childhood grievance being the top worry of just 10 per cent of mums and dads.

Action for Children MD Carol Iddon 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."

The charity has put together a rather patronising list of ways you can stop children being so interested in gadgets, suggesting "fun activities" not involving everyone looking at their own streaming TV service might be a good idea. Perhaps not leaving them in the sole company of the TV from the moment their eyes pop open might be a better option, but it's probably too late for this current generation already.

I find that deliberately breaking the internet by leaving masses of torrents running usually does the trick, as once you've degraded network performance enough no one's quite so interested in Netflix, iPlayer or online gaming, not when everything they do is interrupted by buffering. I'll tell Carol to stick that on the list. [Action for Children via BBC]

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