Are you a split screen family?

Narnia Mr Tumnus

Smartphones are a lot like Narnia…

Yesterday my daughter was ill, I had been at Britmums blogging conference all weekend and wanted to collapse on the sofa, so I promised her a PJ party where we would watch Narnia. We got out the DVD, found some sweets, snuggled up with a blanket and put on the film.

I was entranced for a few minutes, we got through the wardrobe and into Narnia, but all too soon I was reaching for another world, via my smart phone, twiddling between social media apps and googling random things. All too often in our house TV viewing involves the kids watching something while my husband and I play on our smartphones – split screens. It feels as if neither activity, or our kids are getting our actual focus, and it worries me that we have lost the ability to really enjoy the big screen.

This is backed up by research by LG which shows when it comes to the football this summer, 84% want to watch at home, but 96% will be chatting about it on social media. All fine for grown ups, I think watching football can get tedious and my mind can wander, but that has to be really frustrating if you are a little kid!

So with the football on, and England out, it seems like a good idea to support Brazil. Both kids have expressed a desire to get into football. So I think it is time to think about making TV football watching an occasion. With the right snacks, themed with whoever country we happen to be supporting at the time, a party atmosphere and smart phones put away in another room for 90 minutes I am hoping my  family might feel the benefit of single screen family event.

Perhaps we will wander off the football and end up making a lego football pitch or playing some indoor football, drawing the countries flag, talking about where that country is and getting a map out – so much better than adults and children being split by the second screen?

I am convinced enjoying and event together and giving it our unified and complete focus is a really important part of family life, and that split screens not only increase our stress, but they distance our children. What do you think? Do you have any rules or approaches around split screens in your household?



  1. Actually...
    20/07/2014 / 11:42 am

    That’s interesting. I’d come to the conclusion that films or dramas need to be watched without smartphones, to preserve the bonding that happens over a really good programme. But I had it in my mind that online interaction really improves some programmes, sport included. The X Factor is hilarious if you’re following t he twitter hashtag, and #oneborn and #gbbo are always fun to follow live.

    Maybe it is if it’s just adults watching – we have been known to tweet each other here! But perhaps when we’re watching as a family we need to ban the smartphone!

  2. 20/07/2014 / 1:18 pm

    When my teenage boy asks me to watch a movie with him, I’m not allowed to be on my phone or laptop, same rules apply when we have all agreed to watch a movie. When I was watching the World Cup with my husband and kids, I did enjoy being logged into Twitter. It gave me the opportunity to chat with @ActuallyMummy from England (I’m in Canada) plus a friend in Jamaica, and a friend in South Africa, about a game we were all watching. Our eldest daughter thought it was just the coolest thing.

I'd love to know your thoughts!