It’s a dilemma facing almost every modern-day parent: How much screen time should you allow your children?

Every week there seems to be a new study released highlighting the negative impact too much time watching TV and playing computer games has on children.

There’s an increased risk of childhood obesity, lower grades at school, poor sleep, behaviour issues, the inability to focus – just some of those problems linked to excessive screen use.

Over the holidays, Master A has spent a vast majority of time at different summer and day camps, making the most of the weather and the great outdoors.

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He’s been kayaking, played football, tried archery and been out on his bike and scooter, inventing races and obstacle courses.

Come the end of a full day, he’s been pooped and after having some food and a bath, he’s been ready for bed, with no fuss.

What’s interesting is that where he has been so active and stimulated, he hasn’t wanted to play on the iPad and Xbox, and has only asked to watch some of the Olympics.

A child plays on an iPad

Having time away from the screens has revealed a different child; one more focused, more engaged and, I would even go as far as to say, one who is more animated, chatty and happy. He’s also sporting a healthy glow.

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It’s been a joy to see him like this, to be able to have a conversation with him about all the exciting activities and the adventures he’s been on during the day – ones he’s experienced first-hand and not through a computer generated experience.

I will miss this child when the holidays are over and we get back into our normal daily routine of military-precision pre- and post-school operations.

I don’t have time to entertain Master A, so as a pacifier and to ease my guilt at being such a busy mum, I allow him to spend hours in front of a screen or playing on a gadget to keep him occupied.

I know it’s wrong, it’s a cop-out – and I’m potentially putting my son at risk – but what’s the alternative when you’re a time-stretched working parent?

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