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‘Too much effort’ to interact with real life as kids struggle to control screen time | UK News

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More than a third of 12 to 15-year-olds say they find it difficult to moderate their screen time – as a survey shows children now spend an average of two hours and 11 minutes online each day.

The survey, by broadcast regulator Ofcom, found children aged between five and 15 in the UK now spend 20 minutes more online than watching television during a typical day.

YouTube remains the main destination for children to view content – while 49% now also watch subscription on demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.

Ofcom’s research found that some children find it “too much effort” to interact in real-life with friends and prefer to spend their free time on their own at home.

One of the report’s authors, Yih-Choung Teh, told Sky News their research raises questions about how parents can manage screen time for their children.

“It’s so easy to spend our time whether we’re children or adults on our mobile phones – we get that sense of connection and that instantaneous nature, whether it’s news – it’s quite natural – and there is a debate about how much is healthy,” he said.

“It’s hard to take things off your kids – so a good proportion of 12 to 15-year-olds are taking their phone to bed – I think it’s something in our families we should be having a discussion about and ensuring that our kids have healthy lives.”

According to the report, 35% of 12 to 15-year-olds agreed they find it difficult to moderate their screen time, up from 27% last year.

It said 71% of children in the same age group are allowed to take their mobile phone to bed.

The report also revealed that young people were watching less traditional television, with live TV shows now often decided by parents and used as quality “family time”.

Like many households, the Sweeten family in Bristol have multiple screens in the house.

11-year-old Louis and 14-year-old Eryn each have phones.

Louis uses his to stream Fortnite gaming videos, while twin sister Eryn catches up on boxsets on Netflix.

Louis said unlike TV, he likes how he can instantly find the content he wants on YouTube.

Children say they find it hard to control the amount of time they spend online
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Louis says he finds YouTube more convenient than conventional TV

“You just click on it and straight away there’s just videos you just click and they’re already on instead of scrolling down the TV to try and find any channels,” he said.

Eyrn said she never watches shows on normal scheduled television.

Their opinions were echoed by the Cladingbowl family from Cardiff.

Nine-year-old Isaac said he found normal television frustrating and preferred YouTube.

“You can search for stuff that you really want to watch. On normal TV you can watch recordings but when it’s live you can’t search,” he said.

The Sweetens have multiple screens at home and both children have their own phones
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The Cladingbowls put limits on the children’s screen time

His mum, Catherine, said she limits the amount of screen time the kids get – but admits it is an ever evolving challenge.

“They learn to navigate things we never had as children and haven’t got much experience of, so we’re constantly having to keep abreast of it before they outsmart us,” she said.

Ofcom said young people felt a sense of connection with online personalities and vloggers, who are seen as “a source of inspiration and aspiration”, with half of children saying making videos online is a favoured activity.

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