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Harder to get kids to 'unplug' than to make them do their homework

Wednesday, January 6th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Parents find it harder to limit the amount of time children spend looking at TV, phone and computer screens than to get them to do their homework, according to a new study.

Research by charity Action for Children found that nearly a quarter of parents (23%) struggle to get their children to ‘unplug’ and spend time away from their devices.

This trumped the number of parents who have problems getting their children to eat healthily (19%), go to bed (18%) or do their homework (10%).

Action for Children said it is important to limit screen time so children can balance technology use with other activities.

Carol Iddon, the charity’s managing director for operations, 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.”

Research carried out by Vodafone found that more than one in 10 parents (15%) worried others may judge them for allowing their children so much screen time.

According to the provider’s Digital Behaviours Study, more than a third (34%) of parents admitted it is difficult to control the time their children spend with screens, with 60% needing digital products for them to submit their school work.

The study also found that one in three Brits don’t think they could go 24 hours without going online.

People’s excuses for having to stay online included keeping in touch with friends (77%), using the internet for work (49%) and keeping children entertained (23%).

Vodafone and market research firm Bryter looked at the technology habits of more than 2,100 British residents in a survey carried out by between 26 and 27 September 2015.

The firms also conducted an in-depth study of the habits of 12 UK families.

Cindy Rose, Vodafone’s consumer director, said: “Internet-enabled devices bring a range of great tools and services right to your fingertips, and it’s natural that people tend to use them more and more for work and play.

“Despite this, it’s still important for families to be able to balance online and offline from time to time.”

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