She may be one of the nation’s favourite morning TV show hosts, but Lisa Wilkinson has some grovelling to do if she wants to get Australian parents back on her side.
The Today show host made some pretty extreme comments about parents who give their kids screens — phones and iPads — before they turn 5. During a conversation with her fellow hosts Karl Stefanovic and Richard Wilkins about whether the terrible twos is actually a thing or if it simply points to bad parenting, Wilkinson said, “If, as a parent, you allow your children time in front of a screen — you give them iPads, you give them phones — before the age of 5, I’m going to be generous, you are crazy.”
She went on to say, “Come back to me when they’re 14 and completely and utterly addicted to their screens and they have no social skills — that’s when you’ll realise what you did early has come back to bite you.”
Wilkinson, 56, is a mum herself, but her kids Jake, Louis and Billi are now adults (21, 19 and 18, respectively), so she never had to cope with the screen time dilemma when they were growing up. Her kids had no screen time because, um, there were no screens apart from television, and surely she didn’t get through life with three under-5s without letting them watch the occasional programme?
She’s entitled to her opinion, but her comments are pretty unfair and don’t reflect the issues facing today’s parents of young kids. It’s not crazy to let kids have screen time — sometimes it’s simply a necessity. Most parents would agree that too much screen time isn’t healthy, especially for very young children, but it’s an unavoidable part of the world we live in.
Wilkinson’s view is a perfect example of the “one size fits all” parenting methodology, which simply doesn’t reflect real life. Yes, some kids who have screen time before the age of 5 will become addicted, but it’s equally possible that a child who doesn’t have any screen time until the age of 10 will also become addicted.
Moderation and teaching by example are key, and parents shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if they don’t always win the screen time battle with their kids.