It is “crucial” that parents spend less time on their phones in order to lead by example and help children grow up to be "happy and well-rounded individuals".
That’s the new year message from education secretary Damian Hinds, who has made it his resolution for 2019 to spend less time on his smartphone.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hinds highlights research that shows the devices can have a negative influence on a young person’s mental wellbeing if used for more than an hour on weekdays or two hours on weekends.
He says: “As parents, I think setting screen limits for the children is the relatively easy bit. Much harder is leading by example.
"Today we see prams with mobile phone holders attached. You can go to a café and see mum, dad and children all on their phones, not talking to each other.
Phones 'are an easy distraction'
"The truth is we can be too busy finding out what’s going on miles away to pay attention to the people right in front of us.
“I am guilty as charged myself. The precious time I put aside to eat with my family, or play with my kids, too often my phone is also there with us and is a distraction.
"Over Christmas, when I put the phone away, I really noticed the difference.”
He adds: “But too often, phones are an easy distraction. Instead of accessing the nourishing content, kids will choose to access the 'junk food' of the internet world – and the more time they spend glued to the latest game on their phone, then the less likely they are to be getting outside for fresh air and exercise.”
His messages comes after Mr Hinds launched a new "passport" of activities intended to help parents and schools to introduce children to a variety of experiences and fulfilling activities outside the curriculum in order to build character and resilience.