Advanced Television

Survey: UK parents concerned over kids’ screen time

July 24, 2023

By Colin Mann

A new UK-wide survey by BBC Children’s and Education reveals that the majority of parents surveyed are concerned about their children’s screen time post-pandemic. Despite these concerns, parents recognise the positive impact of screens on fostering creativity and communication, emphasising the importance of providing quality and trusted content to support children’s development. The survey forms part of BBC Children’s and Education’s campaign to add nuance to the debate surrounding children’s relationships with screens.

The survey reveals that children’s screen-time is increasing, with 79 per cent of parents feeling that their children have used screens more since the start of the pandemic.

While 67 per cent of parents feel concerned about what their child is watching, parents do see real value in screens, with 65 per cent agreeing that they have the ability to foster creativity and communication. The right content is therefore believed to have a positive impact on children’s development with a focus on crucial ‘softer skills’ learned outside the classroom.

The survey, which was carried out by Survation on behalf of BBC Children’s and Education and involved more than 2000 parents across the UK, highlights that parental concerns around screens stem from the presence of violence (35 per cent), the addictive nature of certain content (26 per cent), and the use of foul language (21 per cent).

Amidst potential concerns around types of screen content, 70 per cent of parents said that it is important that the content their child accesses comes from a trusted source.

Recognising the value and need for quality content, it was revealed that 93 per cent of parents are interested in educational programming for their children. When it comes to what children are watching on screens, 51 per cent of parents consider education as the most important factor, closely followed by 30 per cent who prioritise entertainment.

Against the feeling that children are using screens more, the survey dispels the notion that parents universally feel guilty about giving their children access to screens. 55 per cent of parents admitted they do not experience guilt when providing their child with a phone, though 83 per cent say it is important to limit your child’s screen time, which suggests that quality over quantity is an important factor to parents.

“The debate around children and screens is often a difficult one for parents to navigate,” notes Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children’s and Education. “As a public service offering that has earned the unswerving trust of British families, the BBC is in a unique position to address this. When it comes to screens, it’s what’s on them that counts and we are proud to highlight, through this campaign, our support to all families across the UK by delivering bold, multi-genre and age appropriate content that enriches children’s abilities to connect with others, express their ideas and develop essential communication skills – whilst keeping them entertained!”

Back in April 2023, stars including Claudia Winkleman, Konnie Huq and Gaby Roslin launched BBC Children’s and Education’s campaign into screens in a video that set out the position many adults find themselves. “Us parents can’t seem to win. We feel guilty when we say no to them — but even worse when we say yes,” they say, “and giving in to the nagging only opens the door for judging glares from others. However, isn’t it time to shift the chat from ‘screens are bad’ to ‘it’s what’s on them that counts’?”

Elsewhere, BBC Creative has launched an inspiring new TV spot ‘The Square Eyes’ in collaboration with Blink Ink and directed by Sam Gainsborough. This 60-second stop-motion animation reassures parents that screens, when used responsibly, can be a tremendously powerful tool for their children. This film assures parents that on the BBC there’s beneficial content they can trust. The concluding message of: “Screens, it’s what’s on them that counts” is a reminder of the power of BBC content in helping to develop curious, kind and creative young minds.


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