Screens are such an important part of young people’s lives that they are now the number one challenge for parents, according to survey results newspaper.
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Screen time is the top concern of parents surveyed (44%), especially ahead of mental health and work-family balance.
Surprisingly, the vast majority of teenagers surveyed (85%) also indicated that their screen time has increased during the pandemic, as they face a virtual back-to-school period again in the coming days.
The survey was conducted this fall by Ferme Léger for the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec (FCPQ) and Éducaide, with 1,002 parents of children aged 6 to 17 and 801 teenagers aged 14 to 17.
“We knew it was a concern, but now we see how widespread it is,” said Kevin Roy, president of FCPQ. The key, she adds, is to discuss this with our children as a family, to establish a clear structure that will facilitate interactions with tablets, cell phones and computers on a daily basis.
Quarrel at home
For many parents, managing screens has become a major source of anxiety and conflict for Francesca, mother of two daughters aged 10 and 13. And this, even if she has various ways to encourage her daughters to get away with it.
“You have to be constantly alert. It’s really hard. We try to deploy in different ways, but it’s not Zen,” he drops.
Her youngest daughter, Nina, became particularly screen-addicted after contracting COVID-19 a few weeks ago. “He was isolated alone in his room for 10 days. He had access to the screen like never before. Later, we had to wean her because she gave me seizures whenever we took away the screen or turned off internet access. It was like the sun was being unplugged from her,” says Francesca.
Meanwhile, her elder daughter started secondary school last year. He has made new friends with whom he only communicates virtually, a habit that is hard to break even if the young people now see each other in the flesh, Francesca notes.
Sports activity and family trainer
To encourage her daughter to leave the screen, she made her register for at least one sports activity this fall.
Francesca has also trained with a family coach, who gives parents of teenagers the opportunity to write an agreement on family rules for managing screens.
“It’s a way to involve young people in decisions and empower them,” she says Basically, that’s what we want as parents. »
Supporting their children is a parent’s biggest challenge
- Screen Time: 44%
- Mental health, stress and anxiety: 35%
- Work-Family Balance: 24%
- Discipline: 23%
Source: Leger survey conducted from Oct. 18 to Nov. 2, 2021 with 1,002 parents of children ages 6 to 17 and 801 teens ages 14 and 17.
“We Found Our Children”
The parents say they have “found their children,” ages 5 and 9, since they completely disappeared from the screens of their family lives a few months ago.
Their children are still allowed to watch a movie with friends or their favorite TV show, but they no longer have access to tablets or cell phones to watch YouTube videos or play video games.
“They had a terrible crisis when the screens were taken away from them, it took up too much space, their mother, Sophie, said. They only wanted to do one thing, they didn’t want to go out to play anymore. It was unhealthy, it made everyone angry. We I said among ourselves: This, it is over. »
The 5-year-old started watching videos of “mermaids wearing makeup” and making comments about “things you shouldn’t eat because it makes you fat.” “It was a disaster,” she says.
His son spent a lot of time playing Minecraft, a “not too bad” game, but which became an “obsession”.
The boy even figured out how to shop online using his dad’s cell phone to up his game.
Fixed in a few days
Contrary to all expectations, managing the disappearance of the veil was not so difficult, confirmed Sophie. “It was over in a few days. Now they don’t tell us about it. »
These parents are now telling their friends who come over for dinner on the weekend not to bring their kids’ tablets. And this request is not always well received, notes Sophie. “There are parents who are not happy,” she says.
Adults are allowed movies on the television during dinner, however, because it is possible to control what they listen to and what they do, she explains.
But it’s no longer a question of kids locking themselves in the room with a tablet while their parents have a glass of wine, he notes.
Sophie still can’t believe how beneficial the disappearance of screens has been to her children, who now have far fewer seizures than before.
“It’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” With screens, they really have different personalities. We found our children. »