Parents glued to smartphones ‘set a bad example to their children’

Mums and dads are getting worse at communicating face-to-face with their kids, according to parenting experts who reckon gadgets like smartphones may be to blame.

Parents may complain that their children spend too much time glued to their mobile phones, but according to one government advisor, mums and dads themselves often set a bad example to kids by using their own phones too much.

Families in Britain are increasingly "letting screens take over", Reg Bailey, head of The Mothers' Union, and the UK government's independent reviewer of commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, told The Independent yesterday.

He said we should make more time for face-to-face communication, and urged families to gather around the dinner table rather than eating meals in front of the TV.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums, the UK's largest online parenting community, said: "With an 'always on' culture, we can all be guilty of occasionally checking emails at the tea table, or letting kids watch TV whilst they eat.

"But we also know from our own experiences that when we do carve out the time to just stop and sit down together as a family, it really does mean that we can talk and enjoy our time together.

"Often, it's the one time that families can come together and catch up on each other's days, and when everyone is sitting round a table with no distractions, talk comes naturally away from our ever-present screens."

Earlier this summer, we wrote about the DinnerTime app that helps parents with smartphones bring quality time back to the dinner table, by allowing you to temporarily block your children from online distractions when the whole family sits down together.

It came just as a survey carried out by broadbandchoices.co.uk revealed that 90% of under-14s in the UK have a mobile phone of their own these days, and that 10-years=old is now the average age for a child to be given their first handset.

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