In Latvia, 18% or almost every fifth child and young person under the age of 18 spend five or more hours of their day looking at smart devices, and 43% spend three to five hours a day, according to a survey of parents conducted by the Latvian Children’s Support Fund (LBAF). Taking into account that this time far exceeds the recommended time and more and more children develop screen addiction, which affects behavior and family relationships, from 13 September, LBAF in cooperation with the leading pharmaceutical company in the Baltics, “Olainfarm”, organizes the social campaign “Show tricks, not phone!”.

The purpose of the campaign is to help reduce the hours children spend on screens with practical recommendations and everyday jokes, and instead spend more and better quality time with parents, friends or other loved ones.

“On the one hand, it’s very convenient to give your child a smart device and do your own things in the meantime. At the same time, the phone or tablet often becomes not only an instrument of manipulation and power of adults over their offspring, but also causes screen addiction and behavioral problems for children, which must then be solved in the offices of specialists for the whole family together. LBAF is also increasingly approached by families who solve the problems of screen addiction together with psychologists and other specialists. Therefore, with the help of the campaign, we would like to invite all Latvian parents to prioritize spending time with their children more often, including by making a trick or joke, instead of distracting the child’a attention with a “digital soother””, the head of LBAF Kaspars Markševics introduces with the goals of the social campaign “Show tricks, not phone!”.

He emphasizes that until now the public space has talked about the effects of excessively long use of smart devices on the psyche and behavior of children and young people, but the role and involvement of parents has not been emphasized enough in order to change the situation. As part of the campaign, parents and their children are invited to play at least one joke, a funny puzzle, or trick, for 21 days and thus enjoy the time spent together.

According to recommendations developed by the World Health Organization, screen time is not recommended at all for children under the age of two years, specialists do not recommend to exceed one hour for children between two and four years of age, and two hours between five and 17 years of age.

Reality is different. The survey shows that in many families the phone and tablet have become a kind of “digital soother”. Very often, or 15% of Latvian parents, use smart devices to calm and entertain their children in the situations when they feel tired, 13% of respondents admit that they do it when they have to work from home, while for 12% of respondents a smart device serves as an effective method when children are restless in public places.

“Different types of screens and technologies inevitably enter our everyday life and we certainly cannot and should not avoid it. However, children, especially at the preschool age, should enjoy their childhood. A child will hardly remember the day he spent watching cartoons on the phone, but will remember the adventures with his or her loved ones. No device, no matter how powerful and interesting, can replace relationships with fellow human beings. Therefore, let’s let the children experience childhood with big and small adventures, and let’s remember and enjoy it ourselves! I believe that one trick a day, which will take up to 15 minutes for the parents, will give the child more than the hours spent on the screen,” Juris Bundulis, the Chairman of the Board of JSC “Olainfarm“, is convinced.

More details about the social campaign “Show your tricks, not a phone for child!” and the tasks to be implemented together with the children can be found on the website

About the research:

According to the order of LBAF, the survey was conducted within the framework of the sociological study conducted the market research company “Norstat” in August of the current year, 700 Latvian residents who have children aged 0 to 18 were surveyed online.

About LBAF:

LBAF (Latvian Children’s Support Fund – Latvijas Bērnu atbalsta fonds) is a public benefit organization that has been operating since 26 January 1994. Thanks to already close and long-term cooperation, as well as continuing to attract more and more new supporters, the funds has been able to provide help and support as much as possible, and do everything to make the life of every child being under our care more colorful and the future brighter. Since the end of 2019, LBAF has also been a provider of social services and provides social rehabilitation services for children with communication difficulties and behavioral disorders and their supporters on a daily basis.