Kids and screens: how much is too much?
Research raises concerns that children are spending too much time on electronic devices, with 15-year-olds getting up to 18 hours of screen time each week. Vision courtesy Seven News.
Lisa Wilkinson has come under fire for slamming parents who expose their toddler children to technology.
"If, as a parent, you allow your children time in front of a screen - you give them iPads, you give them phones - before the age of five, I'm going to be generous, you are crazy," the Today co-host said on air on Tuesday.
"Come back to me when they're 14 and completely and utterly addicted to their screens. They have no social skills. That's when you'll realise what you did early has come back to bite you."
Wilkinson, a mother of three adult children - Jake, 21, Louis, 19, and daughter Billi, 18, made the comments on the show's Mixed Grill segment while discussing the "terrible twos" and why bad parenting is to blame for behavioural issues that appear early in life.
Her colleague Richard Wilkins agreed.
"Yeah, it's kids growing up, pushing the boundaries and it's up to us parents to provide those boundaries," he said.
Karl Stefanovic, who didn't engage in the debate, lightened the mood by interjecting.
"Can you pass me my iPad please Dickie?"
The video of the exchange has since been posted to Facebook where it has attracted hundreds of comments and has divided the show's fan base like the same-sex marriage plebiscite fires up federal parliament.
Commenters described Wilkinson's opinion as "a really sweeping statement" and a "damaging thing to say" about parenting.
One mother said it was "a crock", going on to explain how she had three "social, well mannered children who all use iPads".
"Wow! That's a bit judgemental," another commenter wrote. "You say bring your kids back to me when they are teenagers and see what they are like?? Well my two teenage boys had screen time and they are just fine thank you very much."
Other parents leapt to Wilkinson's defence.
"I so totally agree with Lisa Wilkinson - we didn't go through the terrible twos or threes or any other terrible year..we spent time with our child - and yes we both worked and still work," one commenter said.
"Lisa although I understand where you are coming from I do not believe the addiction is because of having the ability to access these devices, it is a result essentially of no limitation to use of these devices," another wrote.
Tablets have become increasingly popular teaching devices for preschool and early-years learning in Australia.
According to Ofcom's latest report into children's media use and attitudes released in November 2015, household ownership of tablets has more than doubled in three years.
The estimated weekly hours of internet consumption by surveyed children aged 3-4 also increased from 6.6 hours in 2014 to 6.8 last year.
Online gaming for that age group was also up from 2014's findings, with children now spending more than six hours a week on gaming devices.