Carrie Bickmore Bans Her Kids From Using Cell Phones: The Project
Carrie Bickmore has revealed she resisted pressure to give her son a mobile phone as he finished primary school, fearing it would have a negative impact on his mental health.
The project spoke to a mother and her teenage son on Tuesday who felt his life had been affected by excessive screen time, whether on mobile phones, televisions, tablets or video games.
Experts say there’s a link between increased screen time and depression, but they haven’t yet determined whether one causes the other.
Bickmore said her eldest son Ollie wanted a phone as he left primary school, but she decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek.
“We had a conversation when we considered getting a phone for Ollie until he was through his primary years, everyone had a phone but him and we felt this immense pressure not to feel like the intruder,” the Channel 10 star revealed.
Experts say there is a link between increased screen time and depression, but have yet to determine if one causes the other (stock image)
“You said you didn’t give your kids your phones until they were 15. That sounds ridiculous. You hear another parent say it and we can say it now.
The Gold Logie winner admitted Ollie, now 15, was “addicted like all kids” to his devices now, but was glad he waited until he was more mature.
“It delayed him, we waited a few more years until he was a little older,” she told her co-hosts.
“I think it was having that conversation, feeling empowered.”
Families and experts are calling on schools to educate children better about the reality of increased screen time – while mother Cathy MacMaster told the program she wants more control over what her children can do to access.
“I wish I had more knowledge on how to lock things down on the internet. It’s through the router or whatever, you know, but I just didn’t have the technical knowledge to be able to do that,” she said.
Carrie Bickmore (left) said her eldest son Ollie wanted a phone as he left primary school, but decided against it after speaking with co-host Kate Langbroek (right)
Her son Will developed behavioral issues, started getting into trouble at school and even turned to drugs after seeing his screen time increase significantly during his formative years.
“We realized Will was sneaking his iPad in the middle of the night when he was in 4th grade. For me, I think it was when the mental health issues came home, that is, say end of 7th grade, beginning of 8th grade,” she told The Project.
‘Will was in trouble at school. He was starting to abuse drugs and it just wasn’t something we encountered in our family. So we knew something was wrong. That’s when we started looking for help for Will.
“I think being the first generation of parents who had to try to manage the kids and the screens, it was very difficult and the arguments followed normally, when we tried to remove the screen.” So it was difficult.
The Gold Logie winner (pictured with Waleed Aly) admitted Ollie, now 15, was ‘addicted like all kids’ to his devices now but was glad he waited until he was more mature
Langbroek lamented that so many Australian parents were handing out phones to children as young as 12, but Bickmore said there was immense pressure to follow suit.
“You are so aware of how they sit within their social network. You wouldn’t give them drugs, “That’s it,” she said.
Waleed Aly replied, “The arguments we use to justify it, ‘They need it because they might get lost on a train’. That’s our problem. Those are weak arguments.
Langbroek said parents should be aware of the importance of giving their child a phone that is too young and the decision is irreversible.
“The second you give your child a phone, you lose your child. You lose part of it,” she said.
“When do you want to lose your child? Do you want to lose the two of them over dinner because they can’t sit through dinner without an iPad?
“We have to toughen up as parents.”
Families and experts call on schools to better educate children about the reality of increased screen time