Many parents are concerned about how long their children are spending looking at the screen of an iPhone, iPad, computer or TV. Children seem to be able to spend hours playing games and looking at social media sites. This may seem strange or even wrong to those of us who grew up without computers. Alternatively, many parents think that being tech-savvy is an advantage and encourage their children to build skills in this area. Another benefit of children using technology, of course, is that they entertain themselves and let us get on with other things!

Being able to use technology is an essential skill in learning and work. Today, children need to know how to use computers. In fact, they need to be fluent in their use, so totally withholding a computer may even be detrimental. However, other skills are essential too, for example being able to hold a conversation face-to-face and maintain relationships, keep healthy and move, effectively handle equipment and look after ourselves. Being able to entertain ourselves without a screen, for example, participating in activities such as sport, crafts and music brings a balance to our lives that includes crucial social personal contact. Dexterity and speed on a screen are great skills to have, but so are peripheral vision, visual spatial awareness and social skills.

It is clear that we, as parents, are the ones that need to ensure that our children have this healthy balance in their lives.