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  • Report
  • 6th Feb 2024

How can we promote a reasoned use of screens by children?

This project was conducted in 2021 as part of our framework agreement with the Directorate for Government Transformation (DITP). We assisted the DITP behavioural sciences department following a sollicitation from the France’s inter-ministerial mission to combat drugs and addictive behaviour (MILDECA).

Despite the undoubted advantages of ever-increasing access to new technologies, a growing number of studies are shedding light on the harmful effects of screens, particularly on children (for their cognitive development, physical and mental health). BIT has supported the DITP and MILDECA in developing a tool to help families better manage their children’s screen time (aged 6 to 11).

A comprehensive behavioural study identified the barriers  encountered by families, as well as the levers on which interventions could be based to offer effective  solutions. The study showed, among other things, that while families are aware of the dangers associated with screens (to the point, sometimes, of being a source of stress/anxiety for them) their knowledge is still insufficient, particularly in terms of what constitutes a healthy screen time. Most parents do not know how to support their children in developing healthy screen time habits, or monitor their screen time. 

The increasing presence of screens in children’s environments, as well as the social pressure to have a mobile phone or to be present on social media, all make it increasingly difficult for families to manage kids’ screen time.

Following the behavioural study, we tested the solution identified as the most promising: a digital family mediation tool, offering information and support to parents and guiding them to create their own personalised strategy for better managing screen time at home, without prejudging the best plan for each individual household. To this end, a partnership was set up with digital education specialist Tralalere, which already had an app with a similar concept, Faminum. A new and improved version of the app was developed, based on our research. 

A test phase of the solution with 120 families produced a number of key lessons for the roll-out of this type of tool: the importance of adapting the tool for use by children (by making it more fun); the importance of inviting parents to reflect on their own practices; and the benefits of tools like Faminum in offering verified information and advice – playing a key role  in reassuring parents and facilitating family conversations. 

Download the report on the DITP website (in French)