Children born right before the new millennium are used to seeing - and using - different devices as technology has become a convenient part of everyday life. However, a new study has revealed many parents are struggling to control their children's gadget use and screen time exposure is likely causing kids to become miserable.
The study, which involved British children and their parents, revealed that 23 percent of dads and moms admitted to being challenged with getting their kids unplug from devices, according to Action For Children (AFC). The problem ranks higher than struggles that relate to letting children eat healthy (19 percent) or asking them to do their homework (10 percent).
Kids who are constantly glued to their devices pose real concerns as experts said a generation of "deeply unhappy children" could arise from this screen time habit. "The pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis," said National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) chief Peter Wanless, via ITV. NSPCC established a helpline in 1986 and the agency noted the rise in cases of low self-esteem and bullying, including cyber-bullying. NSPCC also noticed a shift in the way they have counselled children using technology.
"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," said AFC managing director Carol Iddon in the research.
The AFC encourages parents to be more active in their kids' lives by planning family activities that do not involve technology use. It might even be good to "replicate" the types of games they love to play in a real life environment. For instance, if the children enjoy brain teasers with their gadgets, the family could enjoy board game nights.
Parents must also be the example to their children by limiting their own gadget use and screen time. However, these suggestions might not be effective for older children and teenagers, according to Bob Granleese of The Guardian. Granleese sat down with his 11-year-old son and "laid down the law" the old-fashioned way - by having the boy hand his gadgets to his parents on school nights without arguments. The kid initially protested, but dad had the final say.