It’s easy to assume that kids most of all want life to be a never-ending Fortnite battle, and they’d rather meet a youtuber than Father Christmas. But is that really true? We conducted a highly unscientific survey of what children think of screen time rules and what they actually think is important at home. And no, the answer isn’t faster broadband.

Jack, age 9

What’s your favourite time at home?
The evenings when we all hang out together. Sometimes we watch a film. Or when we’re eating dinner. When everyone’s together. It’s nice and you can talk about all the different things that have happened.

What do you think would happen if you were allowed as much screen time as you liked?
I’d go home when school finished, play games all night, oversleep and miss school the next day. And then I wouldn’t learn anything and I might not get a job when I’m grown up.

Is having rules about how much time you can spend on screens a good thing or a bad thing?
Good but I think you should get more than half an hour.
I should get an hour.

Lisa, age 5

What’s your favourite time at home?
When there’s a party. I like it when everyone’s talking to each other. And it’s nice when we have breakfast in bed.

What do you think would happen if you were allowed as much screen time as you liked?
We’d get cross because we’d watch so many films that we’d run out. And we might use up all the electricity.

Is having rules about how much time you can spend on screens a good thing or a bad thing?
A bad thing. Children should decide.

Frank, age 6

What’s your favourite time at home?
When everyone in the family goes out to do something fun.

What do you think would happen if you were allowed as much screen time as you liked?
If you watch TV too much, my mum says it makes you square-eyed.

Is having rules about how much time you can spend on screens a good thing or a bad thing?
A good thing. If you don’t have rules, kids could do anything, like fighting. Or taking snacks all the time. Like snacks, cheese puffs, crisps and sweets.

Rita, age 7

What’s your favourite time at home?
In the winter when it’s dark outside and the whole family is together on the sofa and we get hot chocolate.

What do you think would happen if you were allowed as much screen time as you liked?
You wouldn’t be healthy because you wouldn’t go outside or do gymnastics.

Is having rules about how much time you can spend on screens a good thing or a bad thing?
Good and bad. You do want to go on them sometimes.

Olle, age 9

What’s your favourite time at home?
When the whole family is together having dinner after work and school and we talk about what happened during the day. It’s especially nice when we have candles lit.

What do you think would happen if you were allowed as much screen time as you liked?
You’d be on your screen from the minute you got home until you fell asleep and be back on it again as soon as you woke up.

Is having rules about how much time you can spend on screens a good thing or a bad thing?
Good because otherwise the light would be too bright for your eyes and they swear a lot on YouTube and make stuff up like saying Hillary Clinton is a clone.

So what have we learned?
Considering all the battles that erupt about smartphones, many of us might think our children have a practically insatiable need for screens. But if we let them think for themselves about what they actually value, their answers aren’t what we might have expected.

According to therapist and phone addiction expert Patrik Wincent, much of the solution to getting our children to cut their screen time comes down to parents setting a good example and changing their own mobile phone behaviour. As we know, children don’t always do what we tell them, rather they have an uncanny ability to mimic the undesirable behaviours of adults.

So let’s take the children’s dream scenarios as an excellent reason to be better at unplugging ourselves and spend time doing what we and they seem to value most, having a nice time together as a family.

Products linked to the article:

Games and puzzles
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