A woman has shared how she can tell 'within 10 minutes' if a child has had too much screen time - we asked an expert what you can do about it

Worried your child is an 'iPad kid'?

A birdseye view of a young girl sat on a sofa looking at an iPad
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Today's children are growing up surrounded by iPads, iPhones and various other screens - and the debate rages on around whether this has any effect on them. Well, one TikTok user seems to think so - she claims she can tell within the first 10 minutes of meeting a baby if they're frequently exposed to screens.

From entertaining the kids on a long car journey to occupying them while you get a moment to yourself, iPads and other smart tablets certainly have their benefits. And with so many apps specifically designed for children - as well as all the video content for kids on YouTube and Netflix - it can be tricky to monitor or even reduce screen time if needed.

But avoiding excessive screen time might be a good idea - especially since it has been scientifically linked to abnormal behaviour in toddlers. And over on TikTok, one user - who claims to be a researcher working with children and babies - said that it's easy to tell when a child has access to unrestricted screen time.

Liv, who goes by @ratiliciousxx on TikTok, went viral for her video in which she claims she can tell within 10 minutes of meeting a baby whether they're an 'iPad kid' - a term used to describe children who are overly attached to screentime. She shared, "I work with literal infants, starting at three months to three years old…And let me tell you, every single time an iPad kid comes in, us, the researchers, we know. It doesn’t take very long to tell.” She went on to say, “There is a big difference between babies who are exposed to screens 24/7 and babies who are not, and you can tell within like the first 10 minutes of meeting a baby.”

If you're wondering what technique she uses to determine which kids have had more screen time than others, it's surprisingly simple. Live explained, "At one point, we give the parent an iPad, and if the baby cannot have that iPad, all hell breaks loose. It is, like, the end of the world. I’ve seen babies who are eight to 10 months old, who have zero interest in actual baby toys, but freak out when they see the iPad. And it’s really concerning.”


♬ original sound - liv

We spoke to parenting expert Kirsty Ketley, who explained: "Screen addiction can significantly impact a child's mental health - they can be affected by things they see online, they may start comparing themselves to others too. They can become irrational and moody, depressed and withdrawn. They may also stop wanting to hang out with friends in the real world and lose friendships. It can impact their school work, they may fall behind at school, and they may start refusing to attend."

She adds that sleep can be impacted - especially if your child has been sneaking their tablet or phone into their bedroom at night - and the changes in behaviour can put a strain on family life.

We asked Kirsty to share three key signs that your child is overly attached to their screen, and how limiting their screen time can help with this:

  1. Not wanting to come off their screens: When children are told that screen time is up, they may have major meltdowns, become aggressive, or exhibit big emotions. Kirsty's top tip for managing this is to be mindful of how much time your child spends in one go at a screen - children under 5 are best having short bursts of 15-30 minutes - especially on video games - and over 5s an hour max. She adds that you should be strict with your rules on time allowance - don't keep changing the goalposts or giving in to your child's demands, and be mindful of the time of day and how tired they may be.
  2. They lose interest in doing other things: Suddenly losing interest in going to clubs, or doing hobbies, and instead asking for their screen is a red flag, Kirsty says. Older kids may start bringing their phones to the table, or be up into the small hours scrolling. Again, Kirsty advises setting rules in pace and being a good role model yourself when it comes to screen usage.
  3. It's all they talk about: It is normal for kids to talk about things they have seen online or the games they are playing, and of course, you want them to share with you those things. However, if their online habits are all they talk about, they probably need to curb their time online, Kirsty tells us. She says that curbing their screen time can also help with this.
Parenting expert Kirsty Ketley
Kirsty Ketley

Kirsty is a qualified early years practitioner and parenting consultant with a wealth of knowledge and experience from over 22 years of working with families and children from birth to the teenage years. Kirsty's career has seen her work in a variety of roles, from children's holiday rep and nursery nurse to over 16 years working as a daily nanny.  

In other family news, a parenting coach reveals her three-step formula for setting boundaries with your kids and a child psychologist reveals a two-step technique to stop your kids from answering back.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)