A fifth of West Midlands parents (20 per cent)  struggle to get their children to “unplug” and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens, according to a survey published by Action for Children. When asked which behaviour they found most difficult to control in their children, more West Midlands parents said they struggled to limit technology-based activity (20 per cent), than do their homework (10 per cent) or getting them to take a bath (3 per cent).

Brigitte Gater, director of children’s services at Action for Children in the West Midlands, said:  “Technology is an often necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it’s important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time.

“We know from our extensive work with families that strong relationships with parents build resilience in children, making them less susceptible to bullying or abuse outside the home, and encouraging them to speak to their parents about any fears or concerns.

“As well as the conscious effort to cut down on screen-time, some parents benefit from additional support, such as dropping in for a chat or attending support groups at children’s centres, to learn how to better connect with their children.”

Action for Children’s top five tips for getting your children to unplug:

1-    Plan fun activities for the whole family that don’t involve technology.

2-    Create a balance between technology use and other activities by creating a weekly schedule on the principle of an hour of 'energy in' (technology use) equalling an hour of 'energy out' (other activities).

3-    Tap into your own experience: when you were a child, what was your favourite game to play? Share this with your children.

4-    Identify the challenges your children enjoy in the video games they play and replicate them. Do they like games about sport? Encourage them to play the real deal in the park or go as a family to a local match. Are their favourite games puzzles or brain-teasers? Organise a board game night.

5-    Practice what you preach: when your children are having screen-free time, turn off your devices too. Don’t waste the opportunity!

Action for Children is currently running its National Children’s Hour campaign, which encourages parents and children to ‘unplug and play’ and enjoy some old-fashioned fun together.