Giving a bottle or a small pot while looking at your latest messages on your cell phone, using your phone or tablet to read your child the evening story… In our society of screens, such uses are now widespread. Only one parent out of two considers that they can strongly influence the development of their young child. They are less than half (44%) to say they are ready to turn off the TV during meals.
This underestimation by parents of the impact of their own digital uses on their children as well as their difficulty in making certain renunciations are part of the lessons of the barometer that the Children’s Foundation unveiled on Wednesday February 1. This study carried out at the end of 2022 crosses, something unprecedented, the perceptions of parents and health professionals of the effect of digital technology on toddlers (0-6 years old). 603 parents were interviewed, as well as 403 general practitioners and paediatricians.
In 2018, a first study by the Children’s Foundation revealed that 41% of 0-5 year olds used digital screens once a week and more. “With this new barometer, we have not rechecked screen time, which has certainly increased in five years, explains Vincent Dennery, director of this foundation. We wanted to shed additional light on the perception of the impact of screens on toddlers. »
Sleep and behavioral disorders
As for the observation, doctors and parents seem to agree: the exposure of young children to screens has consequences. Nine out of ten doctors spontaneously cite the use of digital technology as being the cause of developmental difficulties in young children. Difficulties which mainly take the form of sleep and behavioral disorders, for 84% of the health professionals questioned.
For their part, 80% of parents say they are aware that their own use of screens influences their children, but they are much less (about half) to consider that this plays a “strong” role. More than half of parents (54%) equate their child’s screen time with a moment of “relaxation and pleasure” and almost a third (29%) put their toddler in front of a screen to “have time” for them. Finally, screens are often used as a reward – or a punishment –, since 63% of parents say they have set rules based on their child’s attitude.
Poverty of interactions
“The key problem is not so much the digital content to which these children are exposed as the poverty of the interactions”, specifies Vincent Dennery, who insists on the need to raise parents’ awareness without making them feel guilty. “A child this young needs a lot of stimulation. However, for this, the screen cannot replace the human. »
The director of the Children’s Foundation notes that many parents seem helpless when it comes to looking after their children. According to the barometer, in fact, only one in two says they are ready to establish common activity times. “Our era is marked by strong parental injunctions concerning the well-being and health of children. Parents know very well how to lay or change their baby, but many don’t really know “what to do” with them. »
The Children’s Foundation will soon make concrete proposals in this direction, and will launch a new awareness campaign on the subject. In 2018, a previous campaign took the slogan: “The best app for your child: it’s you!” »