Carrie Bickmore revealed she resisted pressure to give her son a mobile phone as he was finishing primary school over fears it could negatively impact his mental health.
The Project on Tuesday spoke to a mother and her teenage son who felt his life had been affected by excessive screen time, whether it be mobile phones, television, tablets or video games.
Experts say there is a link between increased screen time and depression, however they are yet to determine whether one causes the other.
Bickmore said her oldest son Ollie wanted a phone as he was leaving primary school but she decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek.
‘We had a conversation when we looked at getting a phone for Ollie to the end of his primary years, everyone had a phone except for him and we felt this immense pressure to not feel like the odd one out,’ the Channel 10 star revealed.
Experts say there is a link between increased screen time and depression, however they are yet to determine whether one causes the other (stock image)
‘You said that your you didn’t give kids your phones until they were 15. It sounds ridiculous. You hear another parent say it and we can say it now.’
The Gold Logie winner admitted Ollie, now 15, was ‘addicted like all the children’ to his devices now but were glad they waited till he was more mature.
‘It delayed it, we waited a few more years until he was a bit older,’ she told her co-hosts.
‘I think it was having that conversation, feeling empowered.’
Families and experts are calling on schools to better educate children about the reality of increased screen time – while mother Cathy MacMaster told the program she wanted more control over what her children can access.
‘I wish I had had more knowledge about how to lock things down on the internet. That’s through the router or for whatever, you know, but I just didn’t have the technical knowledge to be able to do that,’ she said.
Carrie Bickmore (left) said her oldest son Ollie wanted a phone as he was leaving primary school but she decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek (right)
Her son Will developed behaviour issues, started getting in trouble at school and even turned to drugs after seeing his screen time significantly increase through his formative years.
‘We realised that Will was sneaking his iPad in the middle of the night when he was in year 4. For me I think it was when the mental health issues came home to roost which was end of year 7, beginning of year 8,’ she told The Project.
‘Will was getting into trouble at school. He was starting to abuse drugs and it just wasn’t something that we had encountered in our family. So, we knew something was amiss. That’s when we started seeking help for Will.
‘I think being the first generation of parents that have had to try to manage kids and screens, it was very difficult and arguments ensued normally, when we tried to take the screen away. So it was difficult.’
The Gold Logie winner (pictured with Waleed Aly) admitted Ollie, now 15, was ‘addicted like all the children’ to his devices now but were glad they waited till he was more mature
Langbroek lamented the fact so many Australian parents were handing out phones to children as young as 12, but Bickmore said there was immense pressure to follow suit.
‘You’re so aware of how they sit within their social network. You wouldn’t give them drugs, “There you go”,’ she said.
Waleed Aly replied: ‘The arguments we use to justify it, “They need it because they might get lost on a train”. It’s our problem. They’re weak arguments.’
Langbroek said parents need to be aware of the significance of giving their child a phone too young and that the decision is irreversible.
‘The second you give your child a phone, you lose your child. You lose a part of them,’ she said.
‘When do you want to lose your child? Do you want to lose them at two over dinner because they can’t sit through dinner without an iPad?
‘We’ve got to toughen up as parents.’
Families and experts are calling on schools to better educate children about the reality of increased screen time