See our top tips to put balance and purpose behind screen time to help children in Key Stage 2 (7-11s) benefit from their screen use.
How are children using screens?
What do parents say about screen time?
Screens are good for creativity
Nearly 7 out of 10 parents believe that using devices gives children another way of being creative for example a child who enjoys dancing, sharing a new routine online with family and friends.
Screens time impact on physical wellbeing
Nearly half of parents in the UK are worried their children are spending too much time online – with the majority believing it is causing their kids to lead a sedentary lifestyle lacking in physical exercise.
Source: Internet Matters Look Both Ways screen time report
What are the benefits and challenges of screen use?
Screen time benefits
- Screen use provides a range of opportunities for creativity and learning – 70% of parents strongly agree that using devices is essential for their child’s development – Source: Internet Matters Look both ways report.
- Screens can be a great tool to allow children to maintain relationships with family and friends.
- Screens can provide much-needed downtime at the end of the school day.
Screen time challenges
- Peer pressure from friends to stay online and the way certain platforms are developed to encourage users to stay on as long as possible can make it harder for children to switch off.
- As children get more active online there is an increased risk that they might stumble across inappropriate content that may have a negative impact on their digital wellbeing.
- Passive screen time (i.e bingeing on box sets) could have a physical effect on their development (i.e. eyes, brain), sleep cycle and behaviour.
Tip 1 - Create screen time rules together
- To help them stick to digital boundaries get them involved in the process of setting simple rules on how they should use screens in and out of the home.
- Giving them reasons why it’s important to prioritise sleep, homework and family time can help them make smarter choices about how and when they should switch off screens.
- Make sure to model the behaviour that you’d like to see in them – children tend to do what you do, not necessarily what you say.
Tip 2 - Take an active role in their digital life
Get engaged and stay engaged in their digital life as they grow. The more you get involved and understand the things your children do online, the easier it is to gain their respect and influence what they do in their digital world.
Also, making screens part of family time, like a movie or an online games night is one way to make it more inclusive and engaging.
Tip 3 - Equip them with know-how to manage risks online
As children become more active online, have regular conversations with them about ways to deal with a range of risks that they may be exposed to such as seeing inappropriate content or being cyberbullied.
Make sure they know when and where to seek help if they need it and what tools they can use to deal with it.
Tip 4 - Use tools to manage their screen time & access to media
Whatever device your child uses, be sure to make use of free and premium tools available to manage their access to age-appropriate content and review the time they spend on specific online activities.
Tip 5 - Encourage them to be selective about what they do online
Help them avoid mindless scrolling and teach them to be more critical about the media they watch and the platforms they use. Encourage them to explore apps and websites that will compliment what they enjoy in the real world and develop their key skills.
How to recognise when screen time is ‘too much’
Often a sign that a child is spending too much time on screens is when they may feel anxiety or stress if they are disconnected or separated from their phone.
Lack of sleep and exercise and no willingness to visit friends may be a sign they need to take a break from their device.
The truth about screen time
Not all screen time is created equal so it’s important to encourage children to have a healthy balance between passive screen time (i.e watching YouTube) and interactive screen time (i.e. creating content or playing games online).
There is no safe level of screen time but it doesn’t mean that all screen time is harmful. Lack of evidence has meant that experts have found it hard to recommend a cut-off for children screen time overall.
One size does not fit all when it comes to screen time – it’s more about getting it right for your families needs.
See other screen time age guides
0-5s screen time tips
5-7s screen time tips
11-14 screen time tips
14+ screen time tips