If you are a parent, then you need to read this. The allure of new communication technologies is taking a debilitating toll on the socialisation prospects of today’s kids. According to latest research findings in Britain, an average child will spend a huge chunk of their precious summer holidays staring at a screen. Because of the attraction kids increasingly derive from playing computer games, watching television and playing games on phones or other consoles, it means very few children will be out in Britain’s parks this summer. Instead of coming out to mingle and socialise, kids will be totting up the equivalent of 12 days solid in front of a screen this summer.
The study, which had 2,000 British parents as participants, found that an average child will spend at least three hours and 11 minutes a day on screen these months of July and August. And one in three parents studied said their children may be addicted to electronic gadgets and games that now dominate their daily lives. The research also found that one in eight kids now owns an iPad, with the average British child having £581 worth of gadgets in their bedroom alone. “There is an increasing digital presence in children’s lives these days and technology has become a massive part of their daily routine from a very early age,” said John McDonnell, managing director, Galt Toys.
A further breakdown of the findings reveal a grim picture, a real concern for parents regarding the amount of time their children spend staring at screens and the impact this is having on the overall moods and lifestyles of kids. Although the benefits of technology in enriching modern children’s lives are enormous, results of the study show that parents need to be aware of the dangers of their wards’ overexposure to screens, especially electronic gadgets that are potent enough to remove the need for proper social interaction.
For example, six in 10 parents in the study admitted that they regularly put their child in front of the TV or a games console on rainy days because it’s just easier and more convenient. While 30 per cent of the parents also said they are forced to put their kids in front of the TV regularly because there is simply nothing else for them to do, one in four parents wish they could get their kids away from the screens more. Also, a despairing 64 per cent would like to see their child play more traditional non-electric games regularly. Sadly enough, two-thirds of parents say their child’s moods are affected after spending a lot of time playing computer games or prolonged periods in front of the screen. As if this is not enough, half of the parents who noticed a difference after screen time said their child becomes short tempered and irritable.
With an average child playing at least eight hours and 26 minutes of video games every week throughout the summer and watching at least four films, this perhaps has led over a third of parents in the study to conclude that sheer devotion to screens has made today’s kids less imaginative than those of previous generations. And this is a scenario that is easily played out here in Nigeria.