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'I heavily limit my kids' screen time, but it's time to admit I'm a hypocrite.'

Last night, I scrolled through my newsfeed while my two-year-old son ate dinner. “Nemo?” he said, eyebrow raised.

Two-second pause. “Nemo?”

Two-second pause.“Nemo?”

It’s a familiar soundtrack in our household, one that is beginning to sound more like a background humming than an actual request.

This routine surfaced after a day of hijacking my phone from me, pretending to talk and type on it, acting out the example I have been setting for him for the past two years. The behaviour was cute the first few times (I even tried to catch it on film) but it has now become a dreary reminder of my own downfall.

He finally accepted my bribe to watch his favourite film once he had eaten all his broccoli, and it struck me – we try to limit our kids’ screen time when we are barely leading by example ourselves.

Screen time is a well-known dilemma for parents. We complain to one another about how Toby is obsessed with the iPad and Charlotte won’t eat without Peppa Pig on.

Watch: Things Mums never say. Post continues below.

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We’re beginning to grumble more it more than we do about their vegetable intake or sleeping habits.

We judge families who sit at restaurants, each glued to a separate device. We’d never allow that…even though we aren’t there yet. And we bemoan how we are all trying to follow the World Health Organisation’s advice not to allow screen time for children under one, and no more than one hour of screen time per day for children aged two to four.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital’s online guidelines link excessive screen time to difficulties with weight gain, sleep, communication, neck, back and eye health, as well as exposure to potentially harmful information.

It seems like we have all the information we need, and we’re trying to do the right thing…but are we?

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"We’re trying to do the right thing...but are we?" Image: Supplied

I'm trained as a speech and language pathologist. This has lead me to focus heavily on the development of my son’s communication skills.

I tried to limit his screen time, at least for the first year of his life, and while doing so I played a lot - regularly commenting on our actions and pointing out important words.

But I didn’t think twice about my own behaviour. In fact, I think I entered that addictive scrolling-zone even more. It was a way to take a break from the repetitive routine of baby-land and see what was happening in the real world. It was my escape.

Listen: When should kids get their first phone? The team discuss on our parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.

When I think about it, my behaviour screams of hypocrisy. Because it's not just what you say to them, but also the way you behave around your child. The more you’re on your phone, the less you’re engaging or encouraging their engagement - and the more you’re telling them that being addicted to devices is the norm.

And really, why would they think otherwise?

Do you have rules when it comes to screen time? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Lauren Brender is a mum, freelance writer, speech and language pathologist, and coffee addict.

Feature Image: Getty.

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