Sitters Survey Reveals the Truth about a Child’s Smart Life

There’s a great deal of misinformation out there for parents when it comes to a child’s digital life. You’re parenting in the digital age: a time very different from your own childhood. It brings the good, but you fear it, too, brings the bad.

We decided to conduct a detailed survey of parents across the nation to find out the truth about parent’s experiences raising children in the digital age. Then we decided to take a look at what parents’ fear of the impact a smart device could bring and the reality according to research.

You can find out the results of the survey here or for a quick run-down read on.

Parental Guilt

As a service aimed at helping parents, we don’t like it when parental guilt creeps up for no good reason.

Our survey revealed that the majority of parents feel guilty about their children’s smart lives. However, approximately 80% of parents allow their children aged 2-10 years to use smart devices and 44% will have allowed their children to start using a smart device by the age of 3.

We discovered that the guilt creeps in for many reasons. An enormous 70% of parents believe that using smart devices is addictive. A vast number worry about damage to eyesight from spending too much time on the device.

Some parents are concerned that a ‘smart life’ is an anti-social one. There are also fears over inappropriate content and cyber-bullying, but aren’t as high as the ‘physical’ consequences.

The word cloud image below illustrates the negatives a smart device can bring. The larger the word indicates it being mentioned more frequently.

Negatives

 

Interestingly, parents of girls tend to feel the guilt more keenly than parents of boys even though they use their devices slightly less each day. Furthermore, there are some notable differences between London families and elsewhere. For more details of this see our main report.

Before we come on to the facts and realities as revealed by the latest research, it’s useful to know what a child’s smart life looks like.

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 A Child’s Smart Life

The top three things a child uses their smart device for are:

  • Watching videos (40%)
  • Playing games (34%)
  • Educational apps (17%)

Kids are mostly on their tablets or smartphones after school. 41% of kids are on their devices after school but before dinner. A large minority of 39% are on them after dinner but before bedtime. In fact, nearly 50% of parents reveal that sometimes their child is on a device right up till bedtime.

This is where we really needed to compare what parents do, and what they feel about it, with the facts according to studies.

Truth vs Fiction

First of all, parents are doing a great job of monitoring the content of a child’s smart life. In fact, a staggering 93% monitor what’s going on, using various methods.

Some of the fears that were revealed by the survey match up with reality. For example, you worry that devices are addictive and this is correct. However, our survey along with a review of studies showed there are some surprising disparities between what parents fear and the truth.

In fact, we discovered that while you may fear that smart device usage is damaging for the eyes, science doesn’t back this up. Too much screen use does cause eye strain (a short-term condition), but there is no evidence for permanent or long-term damage. We also uncovered how smart device usage can actually be a good thing in some situations for social relationships

A smart device undoubtedly has many positives as a children developmental and educational tool, as well as making sure that they are keeping up with the technology. The word cloud image below demonstrates the other positives the parents in our survey believe in.

Positives

What’s interesting is that very few of the surveyed parents are concerned about smart device usage and its impact on a child’s sleep. This, therefore, explains why so many allow device usage right up to bedtime.

However, this is where our research has shown that changes need to be made. Studies repeatedly show that the use of screens immediately prior to bedtime is detrimental to a child’s sleep.

Our latest survey results combined with other scientific the research about smart device usage in children have revealed some fascinating things. To find out more about the results of the survey, myth-busting to help deal with parent guilt concerning children’s smart lives, and hints and tips on how to manage it, see the full article here.

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