Carrie Bickmore revealed that she resisted pressure to give her son a cell phone when he finished primary school for fear it would negatively impact his mental health.
The Project spoke Tuesday with a mother and her teenage son who felt his life was affected by excessive screen time, whether on cell phones, television, tablets or video games.
Experts say there’s a link between increased screen time and depression, but they’ve yet to determine whether one causes the other.
Bickmore said her oldest son Ollie wanted a phone when he left elementary school, but she decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek.
“We had a chat as we looked at getting a phone for Ollie through the end of his freshman year, everyone had a phone except him and we felt a huge pressure not to feel like the odd man out,” revealed the Channel 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 your kids your phones until they were 15. It sounds ridiculous. You hear another parent say it and we can say it now.”
The Gold Logie winner admitted that Ollie, now 15, was now “addicted like all kids” to his devices, but he was glad they waited until he was more mature.
“It slowed it down. We waited a few more years until he was a little older,” she told her co-hosts.
“I think it was that conversation that made me feel strong.”
Families and experts are calling on schools to better educate kids about the realities of more screen time — while mom Cathy MacMaster told the program she wanted more control over what her kids can access.
“I wish I had more knowledge about how to shut things down on the internet. That’s through the router or whatever, you know, but I just didn’t have the tech to do that,” she said.
Carrie Bickmore (left) said her oldest son Ollie wanted a phone when he left grade school, but decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek (right)
Her son Will developed behavioral problems, had problems in school and even turned to drugs after seeing his screen time increase significantly during his formative years.
“We realized Will was smuggling his iPad in the middle of the night when he was in Year 4. she told The Project.
“Will got into trouble at school. He started taking drugs and it just wasn’t something we had encountered in our family. So we knew something wasn’t right. Then we went to get help for Will.
“I think it was very difficult being the first generation of parents to deal with children and screens, and there would normally be an argument when we tried to take the screen off. So it was difficult.’
The Gold Logie winner (pictured with Waleed Aly) admitted that Ollie, now 15, was now “addicted like all kids” to his devices, but was glad they waited for him to mature
Langbroek lamented the fact that so many Australian parents handed out phones to children as young as 12, but Bickmore said there was tremendous pressure to follow suit.
‘You know so well how they sit within their social network. You wouldn’t give them drugs, “There you go,” she said.
Waleed Aly replied, “The arguments we use to justify it, “They need it because they might get lost on a train.” It’s our problem. They are weak arguments.’
Langbroek said parents should be aware of the importance of giving their child a phone too young and that the decision is irreversible.
“As soon as you give your child a phone, you lose your child. You lose some of them,’ she said.
When do you want to lose your child? Want to get rid of them at two o’clock at dinner because they can’t eat without an iPad?
“We have to toughen up as parents.”
Families and experts call on schools to better educate children about the reality of more screen time