Screen time to blame for decline in children’s imaginary friends

Olivia Rook
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Electronic devices are stopping children from developing ‘the skills of problem solving, social interaction and how to build their own resilience’.

72 per cent of respondents in the daynurseries.co.uk survey reported fewer children as having imaginary friends compared to five years ago.
72 per cent of respondents in the daynurseries.co.uk survey reported fewer children as having imaginary friends compared to five years ago.

From watching TV on a tablet, to using an iPhone app, children are constantly exposed to screens, according to a survey by daynurseries.co.uk.

The survey found that fewer children have imaginary friends than they did five years ago, with screen time being cited as a key factor in hampering children’s creativity and imagination.

The survey received responses from 1,000 nursery owners, managers and staff, and just under half (48 per cent) said children at their setting have imaginary friends.

The number is viewed as a decline, with 72 per cent of respondents reporting fewer children as having imaginary friends compared to five years ago. Technology, such as smart phones and tablets, were blamed for this change in behaviour, as 63 per cent of respondents said screen time made children less imaginative.

A spokesperson for daynurseries.co.uk said: ‘Parents can tend to fill every hour of a child’s day with activities and screens and they are no longer left to get bored. When children are left to their own devices, it forces them to be creative and discover an inner world where they meet fun imaginary friends like Puff the Magic Dragon. 

‘Parents need take a step back and stop micro-managing their children and leave them to play and daydream so they can become adults who are innovative and resilient and think outside the box.’

David Wright, owner of Paints Pots Nursery, added: ‘The biggest effect screens have, is on the children’s ability to communicate with each other and problem solve. Screen applications are predictable and programmed, unlike real life.

‘Our children are less able to cope when things go wrong if they spend large amounts of time on screens as they haven’t practiced the skills of problem solving, social interaction and how to build their own resilience.’

Growing body of research shows negative effects of screen time
The results of this survey form part of a growing collection of research warning of the damaging effects of screen time. A study of 300 families by Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries Group in June revealed that 93 per cent of respondents with children aged two-to-five-years-old believe their children spend too long using electronic devices.

Parents also felt children’s physical exercise and connection to the outside world had been affected by excessive screen time, and it was revealed that 44 per cent of toddlers have never held a bug, 36 per cent haven’t collected sticks and 30 per cent have never fed ducks.

 

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