Case Studies

Case studies - how parents are restoring peace at home

Beating screen addiction is not an easy task. Many parents struggle with this on a daily basis. We interviewed three families who have fought this battle and won. Their problems and strategies are quite different, but all achieved the outcome that worked for them.

We’d love to hear your stories of how you manage the use of technology with your family. Please use the form below to contact us.

Family of six - teens and tweens

Our family home was becoming a war zone! Trying to get the kids helping out around the house was near on impossible. They always seemed to have their heads stuck in an iPad, phone or laptop. Our previously sports-minded boys were becoming couch potatoes as they spent more and more time inside, on devices.

We tried the tactic of ‘if you don’t help out’ you’ll lose your device for a couple of hours / a day / a week’. That did usually get them off the devices for a short period. But they were bad-tempered and irritable until they were back on their beloved devices. Often it got to the stage where one of the kids would lose access to their device for up to a week. Then they would wreak havoc on the rest of the family who still had use of their device. It became so bad that we had to hide the device to stop our kids from getting up in the middle of the night to search for it. Our kids were truly addicted to their devices and whatever we tried didn’t seem to work.

As a last resort we decided to try a two week period with devices, followed by two weeks off devices ongoing roster. I’d love to say that it was a joint family decision. But no, it was decided by my wife and I and the kids thought their world had ended.

The first week was hard – really hard! Four miserable kids and lots of fights and cries of ‘I’m bored’. It must be noted however that we live in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. We have magnificent beaches and forest areas on our doorstep. There was no need at all to be bored.

The second week was better. As it was school holidays we started do lots more of the things they used to love. We went mountain biking, skateboarding and surfing. We had family picnics at the beach and went camping. Things were beginning to change. We noticed the kids seemed to have more energy. There were less fights and home life was becoming calm again.

The kids were of course happy when the two weeks were over and they could resume their love affair with the technology. But something had changed. They did spend time glued to screens, but they also started getting outside more, and riding their bikes and going swimming. They talked to us and each other more – we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It’s now been six months, and we are still on the two on and two off roster. It is working for us, and has made our family life much more harmonious. We have family meeting where we talk about what they are doing on technology, with a focus on what they are learning. Our eldest has just got his first phone, so I see more problems potentially in the future, but for now we are enjoying the peace.

Ben, Esperance, Western Australia

Happy family with technology

Family of three - Mum and two-year-old twins

While pregnant, and  then until they were two I was adamant that my children would have no screen time at all. As a teacher, I frequently had parents come into the classroom to drop off their child, and have a little one in a pram or stroller, eyes glued to a phone or iPad propped up for them. I felt that this screen time from such a young age led to kids coming into school with very little imagination, unable to concentrate for longer than a few minutes, and easily bored.I didn’t want this for my kids.

By making this decision I thought I was being a responsible parent – but I was constantly berated by friends and family for denying my little ones screen time. I was told ‘they learn from it’ or ‘it’s good for them’ or ‘it will give you a break’! My boy/girl twins generally play well together, are active, inquisitive and mischievous. They certainly didn’t seem ‘deprived’ because they didn’t have screens.

Once they turned two I decided to try half an hour’s TV in the morning, watching a children’s program. My daughter was mesmerized by it, my son was indifferent. By the third morning however, they were grizzling for the TV to be put on as soon as they were up, and my daughter would have huge tantrums when it was turned off. By the fifth morning I decided the little benefit they got from TV was not worth the drama and meltdowns that followed, and so abandoned the TV experiment.

While they still very occasionally ask for the TV to be put on, they have gone back to lots of imaginative play and generally just being two year olds. Admittedly they have each other for constant company, and the whole outcome may have been different had they not had that, but I have decided that for my two munchkins, TV and other screens can wait until they are much older.

Grace, Perth, Western Australia


My boy/girl twins were indifferent to screens

Family of four

As a family of four living in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong, we found iPads and computers saved our sanity!

Initially we tried to keep close tabs on how much time they spent on their devices, but this wasn’t easy. Our eldest, aged 10 used her iPad a lot, especially during COVID lockdowns when school was online. Her younger brother (aged 5), also did school online, although there was less reliance on the iPad. The kids didn’t consider school iPad time to be ‘fun’ time, and so wanted extra time on the devices after school. We soon found this was adding up to a LOT of time spent staring at a screen.

Although they loved board games and Lego etc, their favourite time was iPad time. And even though they were having extra time, they still were upset and demanding when told to get off their devices.

Often the weather in Hong Kong wasn’t conducive to playing in the very limited outdoor spaces we had available, which meant the kids were often confined to indoors. This made the whole ‘devices war’ so much worse.

In the end we decided to limit their time to two hours a day (where possible). Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t. We know it’s not ideal, but in our situation it’s the best option.

When we return to Australia, they will have much more opportunities for unlimited outdoor play, and hopefully a lot less device time!

Tim, Hong Kong

The view from our Hong Kong apartment

We’d love to hear your success stories! Please comment below.