Abbey Wood Grange Nursery
South Croydon’s Premier Nursery School

Due to COVID-19 - the Coronavirus - the Nursery is closed until further notice.

For further infoamtion please call Vince on 07958 592 877 or Sue on 07554 409 664.

Preschool Private Day Nursery South Croydon

Located in South Croydon, Abbey Wood Grange is a private Day Nursery offering superior quality care for babies and children aged between 3 months and 5 years. Check out our brief 40 second YouTube video showcasing our outstanding facilities and personalised playrooms and facilites on You Tube.

Abbey Wood Grange Day Nursery operates from a largely extended 3 storey house situated on a private road within tree lined grounds. The local area is well served by public transport,with Kenley train station just a few minutes walk away.

Abbey Wood Grange benefits from large light rooms, substantial well resourced gardens, indoor soft play and a long serving highly motivated staff team who work closley with children and parents to ensure every individual thrives and develops within a safe and enjoyable learning environment.

Abbey Wood Grange has been offering high quality affordable care for over 25 years, here are some of our unique selling points....

  • All staff Pediatric First Aid trained
  • Free Early Years Government funded spaces available
  • Over 45 Years combined Managerial experience
  • Nutritious snacks/menus provided by our in house chef
  • Free settling in sessions
  • Highly qualified,long service,caring staff team
  • Emergency childcare available - no registration required
  • Regular newsletters and updates provided
  •  Extra days / hours accommodated

The Best Nursery covering South Croydon, Purley and surrounding areas - Abbey Wood Grange

Ensuring the best environment for your child...

  • Family friendly atmosphere
  • Quiet residential surroundings
  • Large indoor Soft Play area
  • Large enclosed fully equipped outdoor play areas
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Fully inclusive

Early Years Funding Childcare Support from the UK Government

Apply for 30 hours free childcare all you’ll need your details (and your partner’s, if you have one), including your National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if you’re self-employed.

You’ll get a childcare account if your application is successful. You can use it to get your code for 30 hours free childcare. If you pay for childcare and want to use Tax-Free Childcare to get help with costs, you can also apply using this service. It usually takes 20 minutes to apply. You may find out if you’re eligible straight away, but it can take up to 7 days. Apply now.

15 and 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get free early education or childcare. Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for 15 hours free childcare, for example if you get certain benefits.

The free early education and childcare: Must be with an approved childcare provider (Abbeywood Grange have been approved since 2005). 
When your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later), this is when the childcare support stops.

15 Hours Free Childcare Per Week

All children in England get 570 free hours per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can choose to take fewer hours over more weeks, for example. 

You can get it from the term after your child’s 3rd birthday. Contact us find out more.

30 Hours Free Childcare Per Week

You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare (1,140 hours per year, which you can choose how you take). If you’re eligible for the extra hours, you sign up online to get a code to give to your childcare provider to reserve your place. You’ll get the extra hours once the next term starts. If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.

Check Your Early Years Funding Childcare Eligibility

You can usually get 30 hours free childcare if you (and your partner, if you have one) are in work - or getting parental leave, sick leave or annual leave, or each earning at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week (this is £120 if you’re over 25).

Please note: This earnings limit doesn’t apply if you’re self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago. You’re not eligible if  your child doesn’t usually live with you, the child is your foster child, or either you / your partner has a taxable income over £100,000 per annum.

You can get 30 hours free childcare at the same time as claiming Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers.

If you can’t work you may still be eligible if your partner is working, and you get Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. Read the original source article here.

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Feb 20 2020

South Croyden Private Nursery - Get Ready For School


Pre – Schooler Behaviour and Solutions

Emotional transition, self-feeding - children are encouraged to self-serve their own lunch, toilet training, dressing independently, name writing, number counting, How else can we help?


How to prepare me for school, from a child’s perspective.


How can you help me get school ready?

Toilet trained: To help me get ready for school, I need to develop my confidence to be able to use the toilet independently. This mean I will need to learn how to communicate my needs of asking to go to the toilet. I also need to learn how to wipe myself clean independently!

Top Tip…. Demonstrate the proper technique, show your child how to hold the wipe flat in their hand (not wadded into a ball). And then talk them through the process of wipe, fold, wipe, fold, wipe until they don’t see anything on the wipe anymore. That’s how they’ll know they’re finished and ready to flush.


Dressing independently: I need to learn how to dress myself independently, by putting my own clothes and coat on, and I need to learn how to put my shoes on the correct feet. (Velcro shoes are ideal).

Top Tip…. Demonstrate a technique, laying out your child’s coat on the floor and encourage your child to place their arms through and flip over their heads and pull. To encourage your child to put their shoes on their correct feet. Put happy face stickers on the inside of the left and right shoes. This will help your child to know how to put shoes on the right feet. When the happy faces are smiling at each other, the shoes are on the right feet!


Eating independently: I need to learn how to eat my food independently and to use a knife and fork and to be able to clear my own plate at mealtimes.


At nursery the children are encouraged to self-serve their own lunch, with mini serving equipment.

Top Tip…. Encourage your child to self-serve their meals at home and to encourage your child to communicate, what they are eating for lunch, this can build up their confidence when asking for food at lunch time.

Encourage your child to independently to cut their own food, this will get them used to eating with a knife and fork.


Being able to recognise and write their name: I need to learn to be able to recognise my letters and my name, this will help me find my peg in the morning and to label my work. (etc) I also need to learn how to hold my pencil with a pincer grip and develop confidence with my pencil control when learning to write my name. This will help me develop my fine motor skills.


Encourage me to use the phonics cards and music. (phrase one), this will help me when spelling out the alphabet and my name and help me clearly understand how to pronounce the sounds of the letters.

Top Tip…… When writing their name, point out the letters of your child name and spell out their name and encourage them to repeat the letters. Step 2 write your child name and encourage them to copying writing out the letter. I need to be able recognise my number: I need to be able to confidently recognise my numbers 1-20. This will help me gain the confidence when joining reception class.


I need to be able to count in the correct order and be able to recognise numbers 1-20. (ideally).

Top Tip…. Say the numbers 1 through 10 during everyday activities. The first step in learning numbers is hearing numbers and remembering their order. The numbers 1 through 10 are important to learn first. In order to help facilitate this process, begin counting toys and objects. For instance, count their blueberries out loud as they eat them. Simply say, “One blueberry, two blueberries, three blueberries, four…”. Encouraging your child to use a number line by saying each number as you go along and encouraging your child to repeat with you. Another great way to help your child recognise numbers is by reading them books that contain numbers.


Examples of recommended counting books include Eric Carle's "1, 2, 3 to the Zoo: A Counting Book" and Jane Yolen's "How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten?". How can we make the transition to school easier?


Emotional transition: When preparing your child for school, the transition can be a big change for your child, ways of helping encourage your child emotionally for school is… Talking about school enthusiastically by building up the excitement about school can build up your child’s confidence and can encourage them to feel positive about their new environment. Discussing the routine can prepare your child and help them understand what we be happening throughout the day.

Encourage your child to communicate their needs with their teachers, “remember you can ask to go to the toilet by asking your teacher”. Building up their confidence to encourage the that it is okay to ask for things.

Separation anxiety can be very upsetting for every child, so it is important to explain to your that they will be continually going to school each day (Monday to Friday). Explain to your child that school starts at 9am and finishes at 3pm and that they will be there for the whole day, this can help your child understand their new routine.

Encourage your child to say goodbye, walk your child through the playground and classroom, enthusiastically show them to an activity. Visiting the school, around august time your child school starts doing visit to encourage them to explore their new environment. A good idea if you live locally to their new setting, is when doing the morning run driving past the school, so your child can get used to seeing their school. More information at


What are typical behavioural characteristics and challenges?

Children are in the Preschool Years from 3 years old until they start school. These children are starting to show personality traits and more intellectual development, including:

Egotism. A pre-schooler is the centre of the world. Your child believes that everything in the world revolves around her.

Independence. A pre-schooler will want to dress by himself and want to help you with the household chores. Be patient as your child practices these skills.

Creativity. Imaginations are constantly "on." Your child's world is full of magical things at this time.

"Why?" Pre-schoolers are trying to learn all about their environments; they will ask "why" constantly! Take the time to help your child learn about what causes the events happening around him.

Sociality. Pre-schoolers are learning to be a good companion or friend to other children their age. Pre-school play dates or playgroups provide wonderful opportunities for your child to learn important social skills.

Listening. Pre-schoolers must also learn to listen to others with interest. Model appropriate listening behaviour for your pre-schooler by actively listening when she tells you about her day, her friends and her discoveries.

Motor skills. Pre-schoolers are also learning complex movements such as hopping, climbing, and skipping. Let your child practice and make it fun!

Language. Pronunciation improves during this time. Don't be alarmed if your child leaves out word sounds occasionally.

Principles. Pre-schoolers are also learning the difference between right and wrong. You can help by setting firm and consistent limits for your child.

Reality vs. fantasy. Pre-schoolers must learn the difference between reality and fantasy. By the end of the preschool years, your child will have a better understanding of past, present and future.

Phobias. New fears, especially to unfamiliar sights and sounds are common at this age. Be supportive while trying to ease irrational fears.

Poor sportsmanship. Pre-schoolers learn to follow simple rules in the games they play, but they will always want to win and be in "first place." Playing "fair" will come later in your child's development.

Highly impressionable. Pre-schoolers are heavily influenced by what they see. It's important to actively supervise what your child is exposed to on television and in the real world.

Sexual curiosity. It is normal for pre-schoolers to engage in sexual exploration. Help your child learn what is appropriate.

Children this age are constantly testing their parents and the world. Many parents face similar behavioural problems. Here are some solutions to some everyday problems.

Some days my pre-schooler acts as though she's ready to be "all grown up," other times I fear she's regressing back to her "baby" days. How can I help her through this change?


Help your child transition from "baby" to preschool. Your child may rely on security items (e.g., blankets, special bear) and needs your understanding about the importance of these special items.

Master the art of feeling identification. "Learning to recognize and deal with children's feelings is a vitally important step in handling children's behaviour."

Pre-schoolers haven't learned what feelings are, how to talk about them or what each one feels like. They may throw a toy or tantrum when trying to deal with frustration or anger.

Parents must interpret nonverbal clues, understand feelings, and help their child understand too.

For example, Jamie starts crying when Mum leaves to go to the shop. Dad says, "Oh you're crying because you're sad that Mummy left. She'll be back soon." Dad realizes what Jamie is feeling and helps her recognize the feeling "sad."

I think that if I communicated better with my child, I would be able to influence his behaviour more. But how can I start to improve this aspect of our relationship?

Remember that your child has a limited vocabulary and doesn't understand everything you say. It's important not to use too many words. Don't expect your child to understand another person's viewpoint because children this age are very egocentric. Also, your child can't understand abstract ideas yet so it's important to use concrete examples when using logic, reason, or cause and effect (e.g. if you turn your plate over, all the food will fall off). Practice these ways to communicate with your child:

Learn and model ways to use nonverbal communication in actions that are appropriate for your child.

"Nonverbal communication" involves the feelings expressed through facial expressions, voices, and the way you move or stand.

Children are very sensitive to nonverbal communication. For example, Johnny comes running inside to show Dad the picture he drew. Dad barely takes his eyes away from his work. Johnny learns Dad is not interested in Johnny's achievement.

Make sure to maintain eye contact when you express your feelings to your child.

Eye contact tells your child she is important and that you are focusing on her. It also encourages her to make eye contact with you.

Making eye contact increases the effectiveness of your message.

Be aware of your posture and position when talking with your child.

Get down to your child's eye level. Kneel next to him or sit beside him to take away the intimidating difference in size and height.

Watch out for negative body language. For example, crossed arms or legs can indicate that you are "closed off," resistant, or hostile.

Monitor your tone of voice.

Your tone of voice may be the most powerful nonverbal tool of all!

A simple phrase can be interpreted differently depending upon the tone of voice.

Keeping the voice calm, soothing, and soft helps children feel safe and able to express themselves in return.

Remember the importance of facial expressions and touch.

Simply rubbing a child's back, smiling and winking, or tucking a child into bed communicates, "I care about you."

Children are very aware of our faces and the way we express affection through the touch of our hand or a hug.

My 4 year-old daughter seems so angry all the time, but I can't get her to talk to me about what is going on. What can I do?
Active Listening with Children

Try active listening! Active listening is the art of observing and listening to your child's feelings, then repeating what you have heard to your child. Active listening:

allows your child to feel like you understand her,

lets your child work through her feelings in an appropriate way

does not mean you agree with everything your child says; you are simply providing her with a supportive forum for her feelings.

An example of active listening:

Billy comes in yelling, "Harry took my favourite toy away!!!" and bursts into tears.

Mum says, "Gosh, you seem pretty angry about this!"

Billy thinks and says, "It's not fair! Harry took my toy - he's taller and runs faster than me!"

Mum gently reflects back, "It must be really frustrating to have your toy taken away by someone bigger than you."

Billy thinks some more and says, "I feel sad."

After more talking, Billy decides to forget about his favourite toy and go play outside. Mum has helped him feel listened to, appreciated, and loved.

I feel as though my pre schooler does not listen to me at all. I tell him to clean his room and he keeps playing. Ever since he turned 4, it's been a struggle to have him do anything that I tell him to do. In fact, sometimes he'll do the opposite! What can I do?

Look at how you talk to your child. Nagging, lecturing, or yelling will turn the child off to listening, and threats and bribes teach fear and greed, not obedience.

Give choices: "Would you like me to help you pick up all the toys or would you rather do it yourself?" This empowers your child.

Stop the power struggle. Adults set up a power struggle that makes winning more attractive than listening or cooperating. When your child does the opposite of what you say, he thinks, "I win!"

Be developmentally appropriate. Sometimes we expect our children to be more advanced than they really are. Remember that many of the younger children can't understand a request because it involves thinking or listening skills that they haven't developed yet.

Be understanding. A child this age is "programmed" to explore as much as she possibly can. Sometimes this desire to check out the world will win over an adult's words.

My pre-schooler will not eat about 85% of what I serve to him. What can I do to change this?

Offer choices. If your child complains about food, ask (in a supportive manner), "You can eat what's on the table or fix your own sandwich. What's your choice?" You can teach him how to make his own sandwiches at this age.

Invite solutions. Ask, "What can we do about this problem?" This invites your child to use his thinking skills and problem-solving skills. He can use his power in positive ways to feel capable instead of in power struggles.

Share tasks. Children are more cooperative when they have been included and feel like a contributing member of the family. Sharing tasks also helps teach life skills.

Invite your child to help plan menus.

Get him involved in creating the shopping list.

Encourage him to help with the cooking. Let him decide which nights he wants to be the chef's "special helper."

Choose your battles. Don't turn it into a battle of wills (e.g. your child sits at the table for hours while refusing to finish his broccoli). This is destructive to your relationship and may lead to eating problems in the future.

Keep up those mealtime routines! A small snack can also help with after-school hunger pangs. Make sure that mealtime is regular. Have rituals such as a quick game before lunch or a walk after dinner. This sense of family togetherness, especially around the evening meal, can help children feel part of a secure, loving group.

Strategies to deal with problematic behaviour:

Ignore mild behaviour. If a child does not get attention for a behaviour, he will often stop doing it.

Use distraction. Try redirecting your child to another behaviour, toy, or activity. You can also use humour as a distraction tool.

Give warnings then follow through. For example, "Food stays on our plate. If it goes on the floor, I will take it away" (the warning). If the warning needs to be repeated more than twice, take the plate away and end the meal (the consequence).

Time-out. Remove your child from the situation (e.g. put her in another room, have her sit in the corner) for a short period. This will help her calm down as well as motivate her to behave so she can "get back into the game."

"Calming time." Giving your child a quiet activity (drawing, colouring, puzzle pieces, etc) can calm her better than simply sitting (a time-out)

Stay in control. Be emotionally neutral and matter-of-fact. Avoid shouting, or pleading for cooperation. If you start using these techniques, it's okay to say that you made a mistake and to start over using a different technique. Remember to take a "calming time" to cool off when YOU need it too!

Trial and error. Remember that each child is different, and your strategies may need to change for each child or as your child grows through different phases. Find what works specifically for you and your child.

Be playful. If you want your child to clean up her toys, get down and do it with her in a fun way. For example, have a "10-second tidy" where you see how much you can clean up in 10 seconds or sing a silly song like "Clean up clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up clean up, everybody do your share." Feel free to make up your games and lyrics!

Say "no" less. Prevent battles by childproofing your home and removing objects your child isn't allowed to play with.

"Time in." Make sure your child has at least 15 minutes a day of your complete attention. This reduces "attention-getting" behaviours and shows your child love and support.

Take care of yourself. As a parent, you need to find time for yourself, so you have the energy to give the proper attention and discipline. Paying attention to your needs, feeling rested and being calm improves your relationships with others.

More general parenting tips

Keep your praise and encouragement specific. When your child draws a picture, instead of saying, "This is great," talk to your child about it. You might say, "Tell me about these stripes here - are blue and pink your favourite colours? What kind of shape did you use here?" This way you can talk and learn together, while sending the message that the picture is important to you too.

Watch the content of your praise and encouragement. Saying, "Wow, that is the most beautiful artwork I've ever seen!" can make your child focus on always trying to please people. Instead you could say, "I like all the colours you used in this picture."

"Catch your child being good." Instead of always pointing out everything your child does wrong, give them attention for the things that they do right. Celebrate the positive things they do and reward their good behaviour!

Instead of focusing on the two Lego pieces your child forgot to put away, praise him for cleaning up all the other pieces.

If you are looking for private daycare in South Croydon, contact our friendly team today and book in a tour around the grounds next week!

Jan 31 2020

Childcare Fever Symptoms - Private Nursery in South Croyden Offers Advice

Pre School Nursery Children and Fevers

During a child’s first few years it can seem like they are sponges for germs, picking up a variety of common childhood illnesses, including coughs colds and fevers.

Although all of these are extremely common and in the majority of cases the children quickly make a full recovery, it can still be a stressful and upsetting time.

A fever can be caused by many things, from common childhood illnesses like chicken pox to vaccinations and is a natural and healthy response to infection.

Normal Temperature for Young Children

  • A normal temperature within a child is around 36.4C but this can vary slightly from child to child.
  • A fever is a high temperature of 38C or more
  • A fever is the body’s way of fighting or killing off infections like coughs and colds.

The most accurate way of checking your child’s temperature is to use a digital thermometer, although there may also be some other visuals present:

  • Feeling hotter to the touch, on their forehead, back or tummy
  • Feeling sweaty or clammy
  • Red cheeks

The child can usually be cared for at home and the temperature normally subsides within a few days. If you are worried about your child seek medical advice.

Private Daycare Nursery South Croydon 2020

Fever Do“s

  • Give them plenty of fluids
  • Offer foods, favourite foods or softer/colder foods if suffering from sore throat/tonsillitis
  • Check on your child regularly during the night
  • Keep them at home and offer quieter activities
  • Give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce the fever

Fever Dont“s

  • Do not undress your child or sponge them down to cool them
  • Do not wrap them up in layers
  • Do not give asprin to under 16s
  • Do not give ibuprofen and paracetamol, unless advised by a GP
  • Do not give paracetamol to a child under 2 months
  • Do not give ibuprofen to a child under 3 months or under 5kg
  • Do not give ibuprofen to a child with asthma
  • When To Call Emergency Services
  • Get an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if your child shows any of the following:
  • Is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 38c or above
  • Is 3-6 months old and has a temperature of 39c or above
  • Has other signs of illness, such as a rash as well as a high temperature
  • Proves a high temperature that’s lasted for 5 days or more
  • Does not want to eat
  • Temperature does not come down with paracetamol or nurofen
  • Showing signs of dehydration, such as nappies are not wet, sunken eyes, no tears when crying.

How Common is a Fever In Children?

It’s quite rare for a fever to be a sign of anything more serious but it is important that you know the signs and what to look out for.

Call 999 or go straight to A&E if your child:

  • Has a stiff neck
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it
  • Is bothered by light
  • Has a fit ( febrile seizure ) for the first time ( they cannot stop shaking )
  • Has unusually cold hands and feet
  • Has pale, blotchy, blue or grey skin
  • Has a weak, high pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry
  • Is drowsy and hard to wake
  • Finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
  • Has a soft spot on their head that curves outwards ( bulging fontanelle )

Further advice and guidance can be found at

REMEMBER, YOU know your child better than anyone else, therefore if you are concerned or worried seek medical advice.

2020 Private Nursery Daycare in South Croydon

If you are looking for private daycare in South Croydon, contact our friendly team today and book in a tour around the grounds next week!

Jan 17 2020

Preschool Nursery Examines Child Screen time

Should You Feel Guilty About Your Child Using a Smartphone or Tablet?

The UK company Sitters have conducted a large nationwide survey of parents with children aged between 2 and 10 years old to find out the truth about smart device usage, its effects and the guilt that parents feel. The results are in and they are both surprising and affirming.

Throw away the preconceptions about smart device use by young children. Most surveys look specifically at screen time and its detrimental impact on children. Often the focus then shifts to social media use in adolescence. This survey looks specifically at younger children and their use of smartphones and tablets.

According to our survey, a staggering 70% of parents think that the content on a tablet or smartphone is addictive for their children. However, our research also shows that over 76% of parents are allowing their children, aged 2-10 years, to use them.

Despite the positives the parents believe a tablet or smartphone can bring to their child’s wellbeing, over half of the parents on the survey are feeling guilty for allowing the child to use the device.

We believe you shouldn’t feel guilty about smart devise usage, but there are ways to mitigate both the guilt parents feel, and the negative impact that the digital age is having on this generation of children.

  • 53% of parents feel guilty about their child’s smart device usage.
  • 70% of parents believe they are addictive.
  • London parents are least likely to allow their children to use smart devices. Approximately 80% of all other parents allow their children to use smart devices.
  • 66% of children spend less than 60 minutes a day on a smart device.
  • 93% of parents monitor what their kids are up to on the device.

Nursery Childcare South Croydon Abbeywood Grange Early Years Funding

The Sitters Survey

There are many articles and surveys on children’s usage of social media, and even which type of smart device is the ‘best’, but they don’t often answer the questions parents ask themselves, such as:

  • When should a child first access a smartphone or tablet?
  • How long do other children use a tablet or smartphone for?
  • Why do they use them?
  • Do other parents feel guilty?
  • What can we do about the guilt?

The results clearly show that you are not alone in letting your child use a tablet or smartphone. In fact, out of the 76% of parents in the UK allow their children to use a tablet or smartphone, 67% of children have their own device. Even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge use screen time!

Our survey targeted parents across the nation with children aged between 2 and 10 years old. For the purposes of discussion the term ‘smart device’ will be used to cover smartphones and tablets. The term ‘children’ or ‘child’ refers to the age group surveyed.  Of the parents surveyed, over 76% allow they child to use a smart device.

The Guilt Factor

Our survey has demonstrated that parents fall in to two camps with regards to guilt about their child’s smart device usage. 53% feel guilty and 47% don’t.

The survey helps paint a clearer picture here. Partly this is because the positive factors of using a smart device outweigh the negatives. With careful controls and monitoring in place, smart devices are therefore viewed as a positive addition to a child’s life.

In fact, a sizeable 48% of those surveyed think that using a tablet or smartphone has actually helped their child’s development. A further 37% don’t feel that it has had a positive or negative effect.

Furthermore, the majority of parents find it easy to enforce time limits and to take the tablet away from their child when their time is up. However, we’re not minimising the difficulty faced by the 25% of parents who do find it somewhat difficult.

The National Picture

Interestingly, our survey revealed some unexpected differences in attitudes concerning smart devices across the nation. London parents are the least likely to allow their children to use smart devices (41%).

London parents stand out from the rest of the country in this regard and skew the data in terms of the ‘norm’ across the nation. Typically, most other regions see in excess of 80% of parents permitting smart device usage. Those in some areas have hugely different attitudes to London parents. 96% of parents in Northern Ireland, 94% of parents in the North East, and 88% of parents in East Midlands allow their children to use a smart device.

So WHY is London different: There is no supporting data to allow us to truly determine why there is such a marked difference. We can presume that various factors come in to play.

The Modern Families Index 2017 offers some pointers here:

  • Household incomes in London are higher with work afforded a higher priority for parents compared to elsewhere.
  • Parents in London have greater flexible working arrangements compared to elsewhere, yet feel work impacts negatively on time spent with their children more.

Fundamentally there are differences in the way family life is structured. This may impact attitudes concerning smart device usage both in the home and in childcare settings.

The Gender Picture

The good news is that there is little difference between boys and girls when it comes to parent’s attitudes. Boys do tend to use a device slightly more, on average, than girls. This is 61 minutes per day on average for boys compared to 56 minutes on average for girls, so not significantly different.

Genders use their devices differently and parents feel different levels of guilt according to the gender of their child. Girls are most likely to use their smart device to watch videos. Boys are more likely to play games.

Interestingly, despite the time spent on devices being broadly similar, and in fact slightly less for girls, the parents of girls feel slightly guiltier about their child using smart devices.

The Age Picture

Most children (44%) will have first started to use a smart device by the age of 3.

The average age for a child first being allowed to use a smart device directly correlates to the age of the parent: the younger the parent, the younger they allow their child to use a smart device.

Parents aged 18-24 years old on average allow their child to start using a smart device at age 1 ¾ years whereas parents aged over 55 years don’t allow first use until age 6.5 years.

We see broadly the same correlation between the age of the parent and the age of the child for the amount of time children spent on a smart device daily. Younger parents allow their children to spend longer on their devices compared to older parents.

Drilling Down into the Facts and Stats

What are they using their smart device for?

There are three main contenders when it comes to what’s going on when your child is on their smart device:

  • Watching videos (40%)
  • Games (34%)
  • Educational apps (17%)

How much time do kids spend in their smart device?

On average per day, over 66% of children spend under 60 minutes a day on their smart device. Only 26% of children spend 1-2 hours a day on a tablet.

Here is our first clue as to how to reduce some of the guilt parents feel.

A typical child’s day will be made up of childcare or school, activities, family time and more. An average 5 year old is awake for 13 hours out of every 24. This means that the amount of time spent on a smart device is a small proportion of their total waking hours.

Furthermore, smart devices are often used at times which do not detract from other pursuits. For example, a child may use a smart device on a car journey, or whilst waiting whilst a sibling does an activity.  

When do kids use their smart device?

We see a spike in children’s usage of smart devices after school hours. The most common time that kids are on their smart devices is:

  • after school but before dinner (41%) closely followed by after dinner but before bed (39%).

This makes sense. Parents are typically faced with these two points of the day as:

  • needing a chance for kids to wind down
  • when they have pressures on their own time

Smart devices are therefore likely used to make these periods easier to manage.

Our survey reveals devices are sometimes being used right up to bedtime (46%). Although the research here is somewhat vague, and the term ‘sometimes’ is open to interpretation, studies do consistently show that screen time negatively impacts on the quality and duration of sleep in children.

And this is particularly important in terms of when screen time is allowed.

Being allowed screen time in the time immediately prior to bedtime has three main negative effects:

  • It displaces wind-down time meaning it takes longer for a child to fall asleep, meaning they get less sleep overall.
  • The light emitted from screens is believed to be a cause of poorer sleep in children, increasing alertness and disrupting the body’s circadian rhythms by suppressing the hormone melatonin, crucial for regulating a child’s sleep.
  • The content of what is being engaged with on the smart device can stimulate a child’s alertness releasing adrenaline and making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Much of the research looks at the impact of screen time on adults’ sleep. However we should also pay particular attention to the impact on children. We believe that reducing or eliminating screen time in the run up to bedtime could help improve the quality and quantity of your child’s sleep. This in turn will ensure they have the focus and attention required for the next day.

How do parents monitor their children’s smartphone or tablet use?

The overwhelming majority of parents (93%) monitor their child’s use of the smart device. This should help to alleviate the guilt parents feel.

How they monitor varies a little by age. Fundamentally there are two main options: go through content of the device without your child, or go through it with your child.

Parents of younger children are the ones completely in control of what the child may access. Therefore, fewer parents of younger children (35% of 2-3 year olds) go through the device’s content without their child, compared to the parents of older children (55% of 8-10 year olds). Older children are more likely to be independently navigating the device with less supervision so parents are more likely to conduct monitoring without the child present.

Nonetheless, for children over the age of 4 at least 60% have their device content monitored whilst they are present. Actively engaging children in this process is excellent practice as it opens up discussion regarding what your child is seeing, doing and engaging with.

17% of parents we surveyed use software and apps to monitor the content their child engages with and views on their smart device. Many devices themselves also often contain parental control settings.

What is great about kids being able to use smart devices?

There’s a temptation to think doom and gloom when it comes to assessing screen time. However, smart devices bring immense wide-reaching benefits. Check out our word cloud and you’ll see that education and learning stand out as hugely important.

This generation of kids have another weapon in the educational toolkit: the internet and their smart device.

What’s not great about kids using smart devices?

Again take a look at our word cloud using the survey responses:

The word cloud gives us a real snap shot of what parents are worried about. Now we can see why parents are likely to feel a hefty dose of guilt. There are five primary concerns:

  1. They are addictive.
  2. They can damage eyesight and wider health.
  3. Children are exposed to inappropriate content, including dangers such as bullying and grooming.
  4. They allow too much screen time which reduces physical activity, and parents feel it may limit their child’s imagination and negatively affect attention.
  5. It is anti-social.

Let’s look at these a little more closely.

1.       Are smart devices addictive?

Parents are right to be concerned. Numerous studies have demonstrated the addictive nature of smartphones and tablets. This is now being backed up by individuals who’ve created the ‘addictive features’ now coming out to explain the problem.

In fact, smart device usage actually changes the brain chemistry. More recently, a small study has correlated the rise in ‘media screen activities’ with the rise in depression and suicides in teens.

We explain more about what you can do about this in our Hints and Tips section.

2.     Can screen time damage children’s eyesight and wider health?

There is no evidence that screen time causes long-term or permanent damage to the eyes. However, it can cause short-term problems, most notably eyestrain.

Eyestrain is effectively a repetitive strain injury (RSI) of the eye. Additionally, whilst children’s eyes do absorb more blue light (which is emitted from screens), eyestrain is most likely caused by the conditions around the screen rather than the screen itself.

We give more information in the Hints and Tips section about how to ensure your child uses their smart device appropriately to look after their eyes.

3.     The risks of inappropriate content and communications:

The risks of exposure to inappropriate content and communications are understandable, but, largely controllable in children of primary school age.

By not allowing them on age-inappropriate social media apps they should not be at risk of cyber-bullying or grooming. Do check that the games that they play are appropriate for their age and don’t involve ‘live chat’ interaction with players they do not know in real life.

Furthermore it is advisable to download (and watch) the videos your child wishes to watch rather than let them view via instant streaming, especially on platforms such as YouTube. A danger is that when a child uses instant streaming they are linked to content you would not like them to see.

The NSPCC offers excellent resources equipping parents with the tools they need to keep their children safe online.

4.       Is too much screen time a bad thing?

The important thing here is balance. Unicef have reviewed the literature in their document ‘How does the time children spend using digital technology impact their mental well-being, social relationships and physical activity?’ In short, some use of digital technology is actually a good thing. The problem is when it’s used too much.

Some studies, according to the Unicef report, show that increased screen time is associated with some negative health indicators such as physical health and less healthy diets. The parents on our survey are also agreeing with these negatives points raised. 

However, it’s worth noting that these effects are mostly reported to be small and no different to other sedentary activities.

5.     Are smart devices causing anti-social behaviour in children?

Parents in our survey are concerned that smart device usage makes their children disengage from family life and the outside world.

Again, if we look at the Unicef report above again, typically it is thought that smart device activity is used as a replacement for real social interaction. It also enables isolation to be more readily accepted for children who already struggle socially.

However, the Unicef report finds that as children head into adolescence, there are times that digital technology actively helps those struggling socially.

Why Parents Allow Kids to Use Smart Devices

Parents give a myriad of reasons for allowing their child to use a smart device. However, some really stand out.

There are five reasons that really stand out from the survey:

  1. They provide entertainment.
  2. They are educational, and help with homework.
  3. They are used as treats and rewards.
  4. It’s an easy low-parental-intensity activity to keep the child occupied.
  5. In the modern world, children need to be tech savvy.

We absolutely believe that childhood should largely be about fun and enjoyment so it makes sense that parents are keen to allow their children to use smart devices for this purpose.

Games and videos are obviously a main source of this. Therefore many parents will link the allowance of smart device use to rewards for good behaviour.

Whatever area of development you’re striving to help your child with you can almost certainly find an educational app to help. Furthermore, this generation of children need to be able to use technology adeptly throughout their future study and work life.

Perhaps the real clue as to why the majority of parents feel guilty about smart device usage is point 4 above. There’s no doubting that letting a child play games, watch videos, or even play on educational apps, will buy you quiet time to do things or relax. Parents need time for this.

Modern parents are no strangers to guilt. There are never enough hours in the day to feel that your children, your work, your home, and other ‘life’ demands are getting the attention they need. With limited options for sharing out the finite resources of time and energy, the result is parental guilt.

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Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash


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