An article has gone viral this month after a mother wrote about smashing her children's iPads over their refusal to follow her rules about screen time. Whether you believe that this was an appropriate reaction or an extreme one, screens now take up so much of our lives as adults, it's easy to worry the affect that screen time could be having on our children.
Is all this time with their phones, computers, television, tablets and laptops healthy? We asked a few parents in our support and development teams for their take on screen time.
Dave Park, IT Support
Two daughters aged 10 and 5
My children have Net Nanny on their devices - its a program that does content filtering, and also allows me to set an amount of time that they're allowed to use their devices for. You can set a time that the internet will work from and until. My daughters can use their devices for one hour between the hours of 8am and 8pm. I've got different rules on the weekend, they can go on for a couple of hours then.
I don't want them to access online content that's inappropriate, and Net Nanny covers that too. If my ten year old thinks a site that has been filtered out is age appropriate, she can click a link that sends me an email about it. I can then white list the site from there.
My ten year old constantly comes to me and says that I've ran out of time, if she's good and it's an honest mistake - like she's left the window open during dinner - I can change it manually. Kids will be kids, and they will break rules if they can - but there's easier and more efficient ways to manage screen time than smashing devices up.
Jonty Davis, Web Development
Two daughters aged 18 and 21
My kids have left home now, but when they were younger the big problem was mobile phones. They are much harder to regulate. Our eldest didn't spend a lot of time on it, so we didn't have to worry about it, but our youngest became fairly addicted to social media, and would be on it until the early hours. That did concern us a little. We worked hard to try and persuade her not to but we didn't really succeed.
The rule was that you put your phone away. It didn't work, so they got shouted at occasionally. That didn't work either. I don't think losing your temper in that scenario is that extreme - it can be difficult to know what to do when your kids aren't sticking to the rules.
Paul Callaghan, Web Development
Three sons aged 9, 12 and 12
Regulating my kids' screen time is an ongoing battle. There are frequent arguments about whose turn it is on the Playstation, and whether someone has had more than their share of time. Sometimes we resort to taking the controllers away until they start behaving in a more reasonable way. I've also been known to tweak the network configuration so that attempts to watch videos on well-known sites redirects them to their school's homework app.
I do sympathise with them spending some time on games because it does encourage some useful skills, and it helps them relax with friends, but not too much time. They need to develop other interests as well, and to think about making good use of their time, not just taking the easy option. I think the message is sinking in, slowly, slowly.
Three daughters aged 7, 9 and 15
I think my kids should be limited in the time they spend on devices - they've got to do other recreational things as well as just playing on tablets and phones. I want them to be tech savvy, but I also want them to have social skills - not just social media skills.
We don't have any set rules - we just take it day by day and try to find the right balance. If we're travelling I tend to let them go on tablets in the car, but not always - sometimes we play games instead, which they love.
They do argue about their devices. If one of the tablets is out of battery, they fight over the remaining ones. At that point I always say, 'If you don't share, you don't go on it. ' I wouldn't smash an iPad, but I'd definitely take it off them if I felt they'd been on too long.
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