General Article Why social media and screen time can be bad for children, but rarely as bad as parents fear

Topic Selected: Social Media Book Volume: 409

Every modern parent has the ‘screen time’ worry.

It’s hard not to feel guilty when you put your toddler in front of an iPad so you can get some washing done, or let them watch endless loops of bizarre YouTube videos of someone playing with Thomas the Tank Engine toys or Elsa dolls.

My own kids are slightly older, and now the concern has morphed into how long the eight-year-old spends playing Fifa on the Switch or whether the Disney+ princess programmes the six-year-old stares at are age-appropriate.

This does not, as I understand it, get easier with time. At least our children are still too young to have seriously started demanding phones of their own. But it will not be long, in the grand scheme of things, before they are using TikTok or whatever has succeeded it by then to interact with their friends. ‘Social media’, a catch-all term for everything from WhatsApp, DM groups to YouTube, is a central part of modern adolescence.

And in recent years, there has been growing concern that...

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