Bethany is a National Trust intern working within the Wild Network, a gathering of organisations and individuals all united in reconnecting children with nature. Still studying for a BA Hons in Journalism at the university of Lincoln, in her free time Beth enjoys travelling home and going for long walks in the countryside with her family and cat, Toby, who loves being on his lead.
The Wild Network has established a set of boundaries, all to blame for the nations children’s disconnection from nature. The most ‘blamed’ boundary of all is ‘screentime’ but in this blog I tackle whether it’s really that much of an issue.
An American study published today has shown ‘traditional TV consumption’ in the US has risen ‘ever so slightly’ when 2013 figures were compared to those from the previous year.
‘Traditional TV consumption,’ is just one element of what we like to call ‘screen- time,’ and it has been given an increasingly bad press lately, not just by us.
To start this discussion we wanted to know how well our UK figures compared to those released by the US- so we investigated.
Toot on the trumpets, hold your breath… It’s not great news!!
An OFCOM report published in October 2013 reported equally dismal figures. While the number of children aged between five and 15 who have a television in their bedroom fell from 59% to 52% during the year 2012-2013, there was a rise in the viewing of TV on other devices. Over four in ten children (45%) aged five to 15 are using alternative devices to watch TV content. This is a significant increase since 2012, when figures were at just 34%. While there has also been a decline in the presence of televisions in children’s bedrooms, one in five three to four year olds (22%) still have a TV in their room.
But is this really as bad as it seems? The majority of TV viewers and internet users aged 12 to 15 feel that screen-time helps them to understand what is going on in the world, make them aware of different types of people, opinions and say screen-time helps them to form their own opinions. “There also hasn’t been a rise in time spent watching television since 2007;” it’s just that the medium children are using to watch TV has changed.
The irony of this debate which involves me typing at a screen and you sitting there reading it isn’t at all lost on me and the process of this encourages me to state, we do need an ‘ever so slight’ bit of screen-time in our lives! We need it to engage, learn and relax but we also need to find an equal balance between the two.
We can’t blame each other; technology and screens are new, engaging and shiny but they’re also costly, unhealthy and depressive if we stay on them too much. Our obsession with screens has meant our love of nature has dwindled and as a result we’ve lost our connection with it. New buildings encroached on the spaces we once loved and we feel it’s time to claim them back.
Whichever way we package it we must find an equal balance between spending time both sides of our front door.