What are the screen-time rules for UK kids?

A quarter of UK children ages seven to 17 are given free rein on device usage, according to new research from Childwise.
September 25, 2019

A quarter of 1,645 surveyed children are free to use their mobile, tablet, game console and computer devices however and whenever they want with no parental restrictions, according to new report from market research agency Childwise.

In its latest Playground Buzz report of UK kids ages seven to 17, Childwise breaks down device screen time rules for children and explores whether the rules are fair, and if parents set a good example with their own device usage.

Even if a quarter are free to do as they please, 61% of children have rules or limits imposed on them by their parents. Not surprisingly, device rules are more prevalent among younger children, with 75% of tweens ages seven to 12 having them, versus 46% of 13 to 17-year-olds. And boys (63%) are marginally more likely than girls (58%) to have rules imposed on their usage.

To gather the report’s data, the researchers gave children a list of common device rules (such as when and where they are allowed to use their devices) and were asked which ones they follow at home. The kids could also type in their own rules.

The report found that any restrictions children face generally encompass when and where devices can be used (types of content banned by parents are not covered in the study). For example, more than half (52%) of kids are barred from using devices during meal times. This is the most common screen-time rule among seven to 17-year-olds, and girls (58%) are more likely than boys (46%) to say they follow the rule at home. In addition, 36% of children have device restrictions in their rooms at bedtime. As for how much device usage is allowed, one in four kids has a daily time limit, while one in ten have personalized rules, including no device usage before school; only after homework or on weekends; and only downstairs in family spaces.

When asked if the rules they face are reasonable, 70% of children agreed that they are, with 44% saying they are very fair. This result follows previous Childwise research that found that most children want their parents to control their device usage.

On the flip side, 16% of kids said their parents don’t set a good example in their own device usage, with nearly half of this group saying it’s because they are constantly on their devices, while one in three implied that their parents are hypocrites.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at



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