What do screen time and diet have in common?

A tablet and a selection of healthy and unhealthy foods.

Do your kids ever act up after spending time on a screen? How about when they eat certain things? Now, I can’t rightly ask those questions without sharing my experiences. So I’ll put my hand up and admit that mine have been known to!

To be fair, it’s never particularly bad but there is a noticeable difference if they’ve had a longer-than-usual amount of screen time. Or, for that matter, had foods that are less healthy.

I’m clearly not alone in this. As part of its Eat Like A Pro campaign, Beko has today published a survey on the effects of screen time and diet.

First of all, 39% of parents believe their kids’ behaviour gets worse after playing on smartphones or tablets. Meanwhile, 55% claimed that they thought their children’s behaviour is influenced by diet.

Looking at the other screen time stats, 63% said they witness a change in behaviour within two hours while 45% reported that they find it harder to get on with their children as a result.
For me though, the most alarming stat was that 26% thought that their kids’ grades have suffered from too much screen time.

We’re quite strict with screen time. We allow our kids to play on their tablets at weekends and sometimes on the odd school night. While we don’t have a problem with grades, they can sometimes become irritable soon after playing. This definitely makes them harder to reason with.

Other findings in Beko’s research concerned exercise. A quarter of those surveyed admitted that their children spend more time in front of a screen than playing or exercising outside. Elsewhere,
83% confirmed that behaviour is better if they’ve been doing the latter.

With the days suddenly so much shorter, this can be tricky. It’s so important to make sure they get some exercise though. I find bedtimes much easier when my lot have had fresh air.

Finally, the survey focussed on the effects of food on behaviour. You won’t be surprised by the foods named as the culprits behind bad behaviour!

Sweets lead the way at 62% with fizzy drinks following closely at 59%. Chocolates came in at 47%, with energy drinks and crisps at 39% and 21% respectively.

Again, I think we must be rather strict! We don’t allow our kids fizzy drinks or energy drinks and only give them baked crisps. As a kid, I was a complete nightmare if I had fizzy drinks, so I keep mine well away from them.

They also only have sweets when they get them at birthday parties. I feel like a bit of a meanie putting that down in words, but I’m still not sorry!

The final headline stat was that 67% believe that a good diet is as important as a night’s sleep. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Kids need a healthy diet – too much in the way of sugar and fat can’t be good for concentration.

I think the key is taking a balanced approach. This applies both to screen time and diet. In a way, screens should be used in the same way as foods that are considered as treats.

There’s nothing wrong with small amounts of screen time, much in the same way that a few sweets now and then won’t do any harm.

Eat Like A Pro is a global campaign to inspire children to make healthier food choices and for families to cook together.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

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