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How to find a good balance with screentime this Christmas

I just witnessed this funny family interaction:

10 year old kid: Dad what’s the tallest mountain in the world?

Dad (with a satisfied smile, some may say smug), well son that would be Mount Everest.

Kid: Sorry Dad, Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, but the tallest is Mount Mauna Kea, but two thirds is under water, however it is much taller than Mount Everest. Don’t worry Dad,  it’s a trick question, but do you know what the highest mountain was before Mount Everest was discovered?

Dad (a little more flustered now) Erm..Eh.. I think that was K2.

Kid: Sorry Dad, Mount Everest is the answer, it was still the highest mountain, it just had not been discovered.

Dad: *?%*?!!

You only need to look at the kids face afterwards to realise the fun a kid has being smarter than their parent. It also highlights that there is a lot of fun to be had away from our screens and with Christmas fast approaching we need to be mindful of this.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year and while kids regularly talk about the gifts they will receive and the excitement of Santa, what they really enjoy is all that time with family. Teachers have highlighted that when kids return to school they talk mainly of the many family events and interactions that made it such a good holiday, not the presents. While we want this Christmas to live up to others, we are beginning to live in a world where the draw of screens is leading to much more time online both for parents and for kids.

While adults are more and more worried about the screen time of their children I think we need to first look at our own behaviors. Over 50% of adults use the phone in the bathroom, nine out of ten adults have the phone by the bed all night and wake up and say hello to the phone before they say hello to their partner! In China they now have pavements split down the middle with a texting lane and a non-texting lane. It feels like we may have gone too far.

Television used to be simpler, with a specific start and endpoint. With Netflix, Youtube and Instagram, there is no endpoint, the next program starts by default and the next post comes up automatically. Therefore, if we as adults are struggling with technology addiction how do we expect children to be able to exercise control. On top of that the more you tell a kid not to do something the more they want to do it. If we want more balance it starts with the parent putting down their screen and interacting and making more time for board games, walks, shared playtime and fun tricks and questions. Start with the riddle above and take it from there.



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About the author

Peter Cosgrove (Guest Blogger)

Peter Cosgrove (Guest Blogger)

Peter Cosgrove has recently published his first book “Fun Unplugged” a book to get kids off their digital devices. Peter is an expert on the world of work and a regular contributor to the national media on areas of talent, diversity and the future of work. Peter is on the steering committee of the 30% club which promotes gender diversity on the Board of the mental health charity Aware and former President of the National Recruitment Federation.