The Child and Youth Protection Centre of the City of Zagreb and the Brave Phone conducted the first national study about pre-school children in front of screens. The study was conducted in kindergartens all over Croatia during 2016 and 2917. Results are based on a cohort of 655 parents of pre-school children, selected by the convenient sample method from both rural and urban areas in different parts of Croatia. Here are the preliminary results of the study.
• age of parents – 22 to 59; most of them were in their mid-thirties
• age of children – 18 months to 7 years (average age 5); 53% boys, 47% girls
• more than 90% of children live with both parents
• about one third of children are single children (others have 1-4 braće siblings)
• almost 40% of children share their room with a sibling
Parent and child together time
• 87% of parents spend more than 4 hours with the child on workdays
• only half of the parents are satisfied with the amount of time spent with the child
• every third parent thinks that the quality of together time is deteriorated with work they s/he brings home
• 40% parents believe that work induced stress negatively impacts on the time they spend with their children
• almost all families with pre-school children own a TV set, mobile phone and a pc
• 85% of households with pre-school children have a tablet
• 65% households with pre-school children have video game consoles
• on the average there are 6 electronic devices per household
• 80% of children live in households with 5 ore more electronic devices
• in their bedrooms 27% of children have a TV set, 8% of children have a personal computer, and 5% of children have a video game console
All of almost 700 pre-school children, as reported by their parents, use at least one electronic device – modern technologies are used by all of them.
• 97,2% watch TV
• more than two thirds use a mobile phone or a tablet
• 60% use a PC
• every fourth child uses a video game console
• on the average pre-school children spend 2.4 hours in front of a screen on workdays, and 3 hours at the weekend
• on workdays, 60% of pre-school children spend two or more hours in front of a screen
• at the weekend 72% of pre-school children spend three hours in front of a screen
• half of pre-school children aged 2 – 4 spends two or more hours of Screen Time per day
• at the age of 6, 71% of pre-school children spend two or more hours of Screen Time per day, while at the weekend it is 82% of them
• children still spend most time in front of TV, little more of them at the weekend (97.2% of children), than on workdays (95.5% of children)
• almost every fifth child watches TV more than two hours on workdays, and every third child does that at the weekend
• around 15% of children use the video game consoles, most of them one hour per day
Average Screen Time
The table above presents average Screen Time for children by age and the percentage of children of certain age who have more than two hours of Screen Time per day. The values which are higher than recommended maximum of time in front of the screen are in red.
How the children started spending their time in front of screens and what they have learned
Children start using electronic devices at a very early age. By their first birthday, 40% of children spend their time in front of a TV screen, by the time they are two, the percentage increases to 79%, and by the age they are four, almost all of them (97%) use electronic devices. For most children the first device was a TV set, followed by a mobile phone and a tablet.
In using electronic devices, children are more than just passive receivers of information – they actively search for content which is interesting and attractive for them.
As many as 97% of them can switch on an electronic device, 90% of them independently search for and start desired contents, 77% of them take photos and record contents by mobile phones, while 45% independently use the Internet.
• as many as 97% of pre-school children can switch on an electronic device
• 90% of them independently search for and start desired contents
• 77% of them take photos and record contents by mobile phones
• 45% independently use the Internet.
Sleeping and eating by the screen
• every third child, at least sometimes, uses some electronic device during meals
• 90% of children use electronic devices before sleep
• one out of ten children often or always uses electronic devices during meals
• 41% of children often or always use them right before sleep
Why parents allow their children time in front of screens
• almost 50% of parents provide screens for children to have fun
• more than one third of parents consider electronic devices useful for their children’s learning
• 56% of parents are trying to focus their children’s attention by providing electronic devices
• about 7% of parents believe that children will better fit in their peer groups if they use modern technologies
• about 50% parents cannot estimate whether electronic devices are harmful or useful for their children
• one third of parents estimate electronic devices as harmful, but all children use them
• 17% of parents estimate electronic devices as useful
Involving children in organised activities
• organised sports activities at the place where they live are available to 85.5% of children and are attended by half of them
• playrooms at the place where they live are available to 83.2% of children with more than a half of these children participating
• foreign language schools are attended by every third child to whom these are available
• music activities like singing, playing an instrument, or singing in a choir are available to almost 70% of children, and 8.3% of them are involved
Rules, supervision, relationship: How parents regulate Screen Time
• one fourth of parents do not set any rules related to their pre-school children’s use of electronic devices
• one out of ten parents never or rarely tells his/her child what s/he is allowed to watch
• some parents set rules only about watching TV, some only for other screens
Regardless of Screen Time limitations, children use modern technologies without supervision.
• 40% of parents are always present while their child is using electronic devices
• only 30% follows the contents of what the child is watching
• 11% of parents always watch the content with their children
• almost every fifth parent reports that s/he never or rarely watches the content with the child
• after the child has watched something on TV, one fifth of parents never or only sometimes talks with the child about what s/he has watched
• 20% of parents do not regularly determine which games the child is allowed to play
• almost every fourth parent never or rarely teaches the child about the use of electronic devices.
• every fourth parent installs parental control software and inappropriate content control applications
• almost 20% of parents do not know what parental control software is
• 12% of parents do not know about inappropriate content control applications
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