Parents should be using their child’s smartphone and tablet for socialising, and not just for gaming, according a new report.
The study found that kids who were active in social media and gaming on their smartphones and tablets were four times more likely to have anorexia and anxiety than those who didn’t, as well as depression and anxiety.
The study was based on more than 4,500 parents of children ages 12 and under who were surveyed in August and September.
More than 50 per cent of parents said they were concerned their children were getting too much screen time, and nearly two thirds said they did not want their children to get into unhealthy habits.
In the first quarter of 2018, there were more than 6.2 million active Facebook users in the UK, compared to just 1.6 million in the first three months of 2017.
Facebook’s platform has been criticised by many for failing to address the issue of online bullying and for restricting parents’ access to information on the site.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes in social platforms, but we don’t have a lot to show for it,” said Caroline O’Donoghue, a professor at the University of Bath and co-author of the report.
“There are a lot more tools at our disposal, but a lot remains to be done.”
The researchers found that active parents were more likely than non-active parents to be more likely and less likely to see their child being bullied.
But for some parents, the pressure to get their children into unhealthy behaviours was more intense than the pressure for healthy ones.
About three-quarters of parents in the study said they felt their children should not be allowed to play online, and the study found more than two-thirds felt they had to make a decision on whether their child was playing on their mobile or on the desktop, rather than on the TV.
“There’s a lot about this [social media] that parents should be mindful of, particularly on the phone,” said Dr O’Dowhie.
“The amount of time children spend on social media is incredibly high and a lot goes into that, so we need to be aware of that.”
She said parents should use the device to play games together, but not to use it to socialise with their child.
“If they want to go to a game or get to know someone online, then they can,” she said.
“But if they want their child to play video games, they should be allowed.”
You’re not going to find a better device than a tablet, but it’s a device that should be used as a tool for that.
“The report comes after a raft of studies showed that kids are having too much of their time on mobile devices.