Many First-Time Parents Avoid Screen Time For First Year But Soon Turn To 'Digital Babysitting'


First-time parents steer clear of entertaining their newborns via digital means in their first year, but by the second year they resort to "digital babysitting", a study has revealed.

The percentage of mums who allowed their children to watch television programmes increased from 21% in the first year of a child's life to 80% in the second year, and for dads the percentage jumped from 35% to 82%.

The results come from the First 1,000 Days study by the NCT, which is supported by Pampers.

The study followed more than 1,000 parents over the first 1,000 days of parenthood from conception to their child's second birthday.

Paolo Haeusermann, Brand Manager for Pampers, Northern Europe, said he believes that parents return to work after the birth of a baby may have something to do with the rise in "digital babysitting":

"When parents return to employment there is of course an impact on time and parenting energy, and one of the knock-on effects of this can be the use of ‘digital babysitters’ leading to spikes in children’s screen-time," he said.

However, Haeusermann added that the increase in screen time wasn't necessarily a bad thing:

"Today there are lots of new technologies aimed at young children, many of which are designed to help their learning and development," he said.

"We know that different parents prefer different ways to spend play time with their babies. Pampers believes that what matters most to babies is love, sleep and play – whatever form it comes in."

A spokesperson for the NCT told HuffPost UK Parents: "At NCT we encourage parents to trust their own instincts because they know themselves, and their baby, best.

"It may well be that your baby’s screen time increases after year one, as you continue to find a balance which suits your family.

"Ideas from friends, family and parenting communities can help you to find ways to balance screen time with indoor and outdoor play, exploring a range of activities to keep you and baby happy."

The First 1,000 days study aimed to understand more about life as a first-time parent, and took place between September 2013 and April 2015. It also uncovered other common modern parenting traits.

The NCT state that 67% of dads reported sharing the responsibility of caring for their baby at night equally with their partner.

However, mums did not necessarily agree with this assessment – with less than half (45%) responding that they shared the responsibility equally with their partners.

Dr Abigail Easter, Research Manager at NCT said: "This research has told us about the ups and downs of new parenthood, and how important it is that both mums and dads find the support they need as they care for a young baby.

"Balancing the responsibilities of parenting, work and finances was a key theme to emerge from the research, and affects different families in different ways."

Is screen time a big part of your child's life or do you limit how often they can watch TV and play on devices?

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