A WORTHING family has given tips to help get young children away from screens, amid the revelation that more than a fifth of parents in the South East struggle to get their children to ‘unplug’ and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens.
According to a survey published by Action for Children, when asked which behaviour they found most difficult to control in their children, more parents said they struggled to limit technology-based activity (21 per cent) than get children to eat healthily (16 per cent), go to bed (16 per cent), or do their homework (15 per cent).
Sarah and Tim Noll have two children – Elijah, 4, and four-month-old Phoebe, and live in Worthing, West Sussex.
Sarah, 37, said: “It’s not a massive problem to get Elijah to stop watching TV because from day one we’ve told him it’s good to do other stuff.
“Sometimes he complains but usually he accepts it, but only if we give him other fun stuff to do, if we didn’t, he probably would want to watch TV. He loves drawing so that’s always been an easy distraction.
“There are so many things you’re worried about as a parent and there is fear about not giving them too much screen time. I think they can learn a lot from TV, like adults can, there’s a lot of educational stuff for children so some screen time is good, but being a young boy he needs to get out and about and do other stuff too.”
Emma Horne, director of children’s services at 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.
“As well as the conscious effort to cut down on screen-time, some parents benefit from additional support, such as dropping in for a chat or attending support groups at children’s centres, to learn how to better connect with their children.”
Action for Children’s top five tips for getting your children to unplug:
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 this 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!
For more activity ideas, check out www.actionforchildren.org.uk/nch
You can find your nearest Action for Children service at www.actionforchildren.org.uk.
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