Please could we have your thoughts on screen time and whether it's possible to limit it to very little?

(97 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Oct-12 20:02:12

We're being asked to comment by radio 5 live on a review of the evidence of the harms involved in children watching TV that's being published tomorrow in Archives of Disease in Childhood, part of the BMJ stable.

The author is suggesting there should be limits - and that under the age of 3 children should have no screen time at all (that's ipads and other computers as well as TVs). Then he says it can be phased in to no more than two hours over the age of 16.

I have to say though aware that too much screen time is undesirable, I'm surprised there aren't positives in limited screen time. Also it's bleedin' hard to control, given how much children love this stuff.

Would be very interested to know your thoughts.

Zwitterion Tue 09-Oct-12 10:11:13

Just read the article in today's paper. Hmmm. Seems to be more about inactivity for younger ones, which happens when we're reading a book.

Also, if you're not a proper, university based, peer reviewed researcher I'm not that concerned about your opinion.

Fishandjam Tue 09-Oct-12 10:21:22

I'm not sure we should be feeding this troll. Aric Sigman (the author of the review) is notorious for cherry-picking evidence to suit his claims. Also, at the risk of sounding elitist, he's not a scientist who does his own, properly conducted research. Just Google him and you'll see what I mean.

I experienced a frisson of parental guilt when I heard this "study" reported on 5Live, but I relaxed when I found out Sigman was behind it.

If there's a controlled study of, say, 5000 children who have had their viewing habits studied over, say, 10 years, and if after controlling for other influences (e.g. social deprivation etc) it is shown that kids who watch more than 2 hours of TV per day are significantly statistically more likely to be antisocial, behind in reading ability, or whatever, then I'll pay attention. Until then, no.

Fishandjam Tue 09-Oct-12 10:22:31

Jinx zwitterion!

We only have the one DD and she is looked after by the grandparents when we're working. As they are able to devote all their time to her we don't watch any children's television at all with her, and she only has limited viewing of adult TV, none of which interests her. The only stuff she has ever "watched" is dance or ballet, which interest her and she tries to copy.

I can understand parents in more stressed environments using the TV to occupy children, or to use it as a learning resource. As she has 24/7 attention from devoted adults, we have plenty of opportunity to teach her via non-TV methods.

She will also be attending Steiner education, so TV is discouraged anyway, and she will not be the odd-one-out, though I understand from parents of older children, that restriction of TV time does become more difficult once they're teens. We will cross that bridge when we come to it - there's not actually a lot that interests us on TV anyway so as a family, we don't have the soap culture embedded into us. If we do watch stuff it's documentaries or history programmes.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 09-Oct-12 11:20:48

May I just point out:

correlation does not equal causation

mummylouise Tue 09-Oct-12 11:24:01

My kids are allowed 1 hour computer/xbox/nintendo/wii time a day with 2 hours on a sat and sun. I mointer this by using time sheets. they watch tv on top of this but only up to 6pm which is adult tv time - news etc. during the week they are out most late afternoon/early evenings so i don't find this a chore to police. i am lucky in that they both love to read and are encouged to do so before bed.

ChunkyPickle Tue 09-Oct-12 11:31:20

My 2 year old watches TV, and plays on an ipad (he's a whizz). I think a big difference comes when they start vegging out watching the TV whereas DS is a very interactive TV viewer - counting, laughing, joining in, following the plot and telling me about it etc.

I can't see that it's significantly different from a book when used in this way.

I can see that when he's a bit older I will have to be careful about him keeping active, but until then, Mr Tumble can keep teaching him sign language (yes, he's learned quite a few signs just from watching something special!)

BeehavingBaby Tue 09-Oct-12 12:45:48

We don't have a telly and the DDs don't know about iplayer or youtube. They are 7, 5 and 2. I had a free trial of reading eggs recently but it didn't catch the attention of DD2 who I intended it for. May try alphablocks games next but this is for 10-20min slots maybe twice a week only. IMO the only benefit of TV is making really dull jobs like tidying up laundry and washing up bearable so I do watch iPlayer occasionally but DDs don't have that excuse yet!

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 09-Oct-12 12:53:48

Pigs might fly.
Life is far too short to gather up phones, iPods, Walkmans, laptops and then chase DCs off 3 desktop machines and two TVs.

Only to have them say, but Mum I've got 'my maths' to do.

Anyway, you lot and my book are on my iPod and my stuff for tonight's meeting is on my desk top. So I'll be staring at screens too!

xkcdfangirl Tue 09-Oct-12 14:59:27

This psuedoscience headline grabbing publicity stunt is from the same guy that claimed "Facebook Causes Cancer" and similar attention-grabbing but evidence-free sillinesses.

Dr Sigman is not a scientist. He ignores evidence that doesn't support his case. That's not what scientists do.

See www.badscience.net/2009/02/the-evidence-aric-sigman-ignored/

It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that too much TV can prevent a child from other useful developmental activities. It is also obvious that a modest amount can be educational. We don't need to pay any attention to the books of a silly self-publicist to help us decide what is the right balance for our children.

MaryZed Tue 09-Oct-12 15:01:08

I just saw this guy (at least I think it's him) on the news, and the interviewer asked three times whether there was any evidence that screen time was harmful.

He avoided the question spectacularly. So I assume he has no evidence [baffled]

CelineMcBean Tue 09-Oct-12 15:14:29

He admits in his own paper there is no direct correlation (otherwise known as "evidence" or "proof" of his theory).

Btw, he is also the knobber who claimed daycare harms children.

He obviously has issues. I blame his mother <<joking>>

CelineMcBean Tue 09-Oct-12 15:19:43

Paper? My apologies. I should have said "Article without full literature review or methodology".

I know undergrads who would raise an eyebrow at Aric Sigman's "research methods".

tabbycat7 Tue 09-Oct-12 15:34:02

Does this include school? Because interactive whiteboards are used all the time in primary schools even in nursery.

My DSes (7, 4 and 2) officially do not watch tv during the week, mainly because the older 2 were developing a screen addiction and were mopey, miserable and, in DS1's case, aggressive when not glued to the telly/ computer/ x box. Even if it was a nice day, or we were out doing something fun. They are allowed a little bit of computer time after tea if they tidy up. DS1 has a blog about buses smile X box time is restricted to the weekend, if it's wet and under DH's supervision.

I wouldn't have a problem with them having screen time otherwise. Most of what they watch/ used to watch is educational. None of them are obese or have speech delay, although the screen addiction thing did present different problems.

mummmsy Tue 09-Oct-12 15:44:38

2 hours is achievable for them perhaps,not for me! given that we,like many families, are out of the house 8am-3.30pm, then there's homework, bath etc and no tv in the morning before school rule, then there's really not a lot of scope for screen time. lots of telly when poorly though!

also, we quite simply didn't have a telly or internet access before my dc was 2 (skint) so there was no telly there either. now as a 7yo dc would pick outside/playing with friends over screentime play. we love watching kids movies together and always enjoyed slumping in front of telly for a bit once we got one at about age 2 and a half. no tv aerial or tv license so all is watched on iplayer etc and dc can't just switch tv on like conventional tv & remote

Perspective from mum of older children here.
Schools have computers in every classroom, it's entirely possible for a child to exceed two hours screen time just at school.
DS1 is doing AS levels and probably spends two hours on computer each evening on homework.
All this is without games or TV.
2012 - life is about screens.

IslaValargeone Tue 09-Oct-12 16:02:20

Sticking my head above the parapet here, as I have always limited screen time.
I am unfamiliar with Aric Sigman's research however.
My dc had no screen time before she was nearly 7 years old, we relaxed this as she became exposed to it through school however.
TV is limited, as is computer time, although we don't see it as some great evil, we are choosy as to what is watched. We do watch family films together on a semi regular basis, and stuff like Planet Earth etc as she is a nature nut.
She is very good at occupying herself and has a great imagination, she was an early reader/talker and her use of language is far ahead of her peers.
I couldn't possibly say that this was a result of limiting screen time though.

IslaValargeone Tue 09-Oct-12 16:05:28

I will also be honest and say I do get a bit hoikey of the judgeypants for tv for pre schoolers. I don't see any need for it.

daisyannalees Sat 11-May-13 09:38:21

My auntie says "tv is great - for parents" . It affords me free time to think and do stuff. It lets me off the responsibility of creating activities for my two daughters. My older daughter didn't watch hardly any tv until she was almost 3. My younger daughter has grown up with it. Screens, and my own lack of discipline over the time spent with them cause the most trouble in my house. They would spend the entire day watching tv or on the laptop if I let them. But our kids learn from our behaviour, they see us online and on our phones. I don't like TV, this generation is the first to have constant kids programmes all day, we don't know the effect it may have on our kids' adult lives. My main issue with tv was how my daughters behaviour was effected by it when she was younger - imitation of the kids on screen - and grumpy moods after it was turned off. I'd always prefer them to be spending their time creatively, drawing, reading, exploring, playing, making. They learn nothing about themselves while on screentime.

NetworkGuy Tue 14-May-13 07:14:47

(LOL at MaryZed reaction).

I have no children, but from comments by my neighbours, know that homework is now being expected via computer from start of secondary school, and would also laugh loudly at the idea you could get a 16yo to be limited to 2 hours a day.

Yes, there needs to be a bit more concentration on the world around us (how many people do you see looking/ typing on their mobile while walking along, unaware of what's happening in the traffic {or the location of/ behaviour of/ risks to/ their own children} but the world has changed significantly since I was in my 20s...

As I have worn glasses nearly all my life, I'm not likely to go for Google Glass (where a small screen may be viewed in a pair of "glasses") but unless, as CelineMcBean wrote, it's clear about the researcher's opinions, it's difficult to consider whether the person "has an agenda" or genuine concerns (with evidence to back them up)...

I laugh, with MaryZed, about the chances, and consider access to the internet more beneficial than dangerous (so long as there is discussion over "good" and "bad" content, and some initial parental oversight).

Just as some would "read" their encyclopedia to learn (and how many families even have a set these days), but most used them for reference, there are excellent resources online, and not just rubbish on TV, though clearly, one needs some guidance as to not accepting as "fact" everything which is presented/ found online.

Unless the researcher has good evidence against it, then 2 hours might be more appropriate at 10-12 (if computer / phone / TV are combined into that limit).

NetworkGuy Tue 14-May-13 07:26:35

Goodness, daisyannalees - how/why did you drag this one up!

Obviously my first coffee has not woken me up properly!

HoneyDragon Tue 14-May-13 07:35:11

So does reading on a tablet or ereader count as screen time? If I print it out on to paper does it stop counting and make me a better parent?

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