Carrie Bickmore revealed she resisted pressure to give her son a mobile phone when he was about to finish primary school, fearing it could negatively affect his mental health.
The Project spoke Tuesday with a mother and her teenage son who felt his life had been affected by excessive screen time, whether it was cell phones, television, tablets or video games.
Experts say there is a link between increased screen time and depression, but they have yet to determine whether one causes the other.
Bickmore said her eldest son Ollie wanted a phone when he left primary school, but she decided against it after speaking to co-host Kate Langbroek.
“We had a conversation when we were looking at getting Ollie a phone for the end of his primary year, everyone had a phone but him and we felt enormous pressure not to feel like the odd one out,” the Channel revealed The 10 star. .
Experts say there is a link between increased screen time and depression, but they have yet to determine whether one causes the other (stock image)
‘You said you didn’t give kids your phones until they were 15. That 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 any child’ to his devices now, but was glad they waited until he was more mature.
“It delayed it, we waited a few more years until he was a little 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 mum 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. It’s through the router or 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 eldest son Ollie wanted a phone when he left primary school but decided against it after speaking to co-host Kate Langbroek (right)
Her son Will developed behavioral problems, started getting into trouble at school and even turned to drugs after seeing his screen time increase significantly throughout his formative years.
“We realized that Will was sneaking his iPad in the middle of the night when he was in Year 4. For me, I think that’s when the mental health issues came home to rest, which was the end of Year 7, the beginning of year 8,” she told The Project.
‘Will got into trouble at school. He started abusing drugs and it was just not something we had encountered in our family. So we knew something was wrong. That’s when we started looking for help for Will.
‘I think it was the first generation of parents who had to try and manage children and screens, it was very difficult and arguments usually broke out 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 any kid” to his devices now but was glad they waited until he was more mature
Langbroek lamented that so many Australian parents were handing out phones to children as young as 12, but Bickmore said there was enormous pressure to follow suit.
‘You are so aware of how they sit in their social network. You wouldn’t give them drugs, “Like that,” she said.
Waleed Aly replied: ‘The arguments we use to justify it, “They need it because they can get lost on a train”. That’s our problem. These are weak arguments.’
Langbroek said parents need to be aware of the importance 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 some of them, she said.
‘When will you lose your child? Do you want to lose them at two past dinner because they can’t sit down to dinner without an iPad?
“We have to toughen up as parents.”
Families and experts are calling on schools to better educate children about the reality of increased screen time