back to article You monsters: Screen time murders your kid's imaginary friend – until they reach school age

A survey of 1,000 parents has found that pre-school kids who spend more than an hour gazing at screens every day are less likely to have an imaginary friend. Once they reach school age, however, the link seems to be reversed. The survey found that kids aged between one and four years old who spend less than two hours a day …

  1. hplasm Silver badge
    Angel

    Yay!

    Screens are killing religiosity.

    Can only bee a good trend!

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Yay!

      Screens are killing religiosity.

      Not sure if you were trolling on this, but I took it to mean that it was causing children to be trained up to lack imagination. Not so good if it turns out to be the case.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Yay!

        At least until they get dragged away from the screen for some time during the day (school) then it seems they start catching up.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Yay!

        Not sure if you were trolling on this, but I took it to mean that it was causing children to be trained up to lack imagination. Not so good if it turns out to be the case.

        But that's exactly what government wants. If you have imagination, you might be a danger to them. Look to the leaders of just about any government for an example of what they want.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Yay!

      The provision of a social security safety net has much more to do with it, along with education, especially for girls are what the international comparisons tell us.

      The Americans are very religious because Uncle Sam is happy that they can be fired on a whim with no comeback, illness or injury can beggar them and social security is a time limited joke.So their only hope is the preacher on the tv or in the megachurch on Sunday.

      UC and Brexit will therefore increase religiosity in Blighty, or at least England and Wales since Brexit has made support for Scottish Independence into a majority pursuit and the Good Frida Agreement has provision for a border poll in circumstances rapidly approaching.

      Expect to bridle at Scottish Broadcasting Service* documentaries on the rise in prosperity preachers in The Eternal Queen's Little Britannic Xenophobic Isolationist Tax Dodge.

      *Aunty's name is mud up here and they will be first down the jobcentre when Independence comes.

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Yay!

      I wouldn't go that far. That's largely a parental dogma indoctrination thing. My guess it's the just practice talking to the space people that only small children and dogs can see. The disturbing part may be they have online acquaintances that are real people, probably cops trying to see if they're pedophiles or pedophiles themselves. Sure, there's the blind squirrel who finds a nut every now and again and it could be another child but it's unlikely.

      Oh shit! They could be watching reruns of Barney!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

    From looking at L & G's javascript mess of a website, it appears they might be in the business of pet insurance.

    Maybe Legal and General is trying to figure a way to deny insurance claims or increase premiums because of the imaginary pet friends.

    As a side note, I have seen some house cats that were the size of small children.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

      I have a small child the size of a housecat.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Go

        Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

        I have a small house the size of a childcat.

        1. Ochib

          Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

          I have a small cat the size of a house

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

            O hai I'm as big as a house

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

      I have an imaginary friend. He's a Legal & General-affiliated insurance broker who is always around when the premium needs paying but mysteriously vanishes whenever I make a claim. I know he is imaginary because he always says, "don't worry there won't be any increase in your premiums this year" when there always are increases.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: For reasons beyond us, the survey comes from Legal and General Insurance

      Maybe Legal and General is trying to figure a way to deny insurance claims or increase premiums because of the imaginary pet friends.

      Or offer a new product - imaginary friend insurance. Well, Martha and George could have used some.

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Legal and General Insurance

    Parents protect your childrens fragile psyche! You too can protect your young childs fragile mind state by taking out our new "Imaginary friend insurance", we offer full coverage for all imaginary friends (extra charge for unicorns.). If your childs imaginary friend is ever injured we will cover all costs to bring them back to full health. Show you care by buying our Imaginary Friend Insurance today!

    1. spold Bronze badge

      Re: Legal and General Insurance

      ...if you think an insurance company is your friend you must be imagining it.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Legal and General Insurance

      The scary part of this is that I can see it happening due to entitled parents/children and all that.

  4. Dippywood

    Which is the imaginary friend of the other?

    "I say, General old chap"

    "Yes, Legal?"

    "One of us doesn't exist, don't you know?"

    "That's a trifle inconvenient, wouldn't you say?"

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Which is the imaginary friend of the other?

      My mother used to work in a legal firm (in the UK) named after its long-dead founders - let's call them Able and Baker.

      One afternoon, the telephonist took an incoming call, which went like this:

      Caller (strong American accent): "Hi! Can I speak to Mr Able, please?"

      Telephonist: "I am sorry, but Mr Able passed away quite some time ago."

      Caller: "OK. How about Baker then?"

      Telephonist: "I am afraid that he, too, is no longer with us."

      Caller, angrily: "Well Goddarn it! Is there anyone alive there?"

  5. big_D Silver badge
    Joke

    Doesn't surprise me...

    that Birmingham has imaginary friends, I was seconded there for a year, it was horrible, I'm certainly no friend of Birmingham!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That doesn't make sense, I have lots of screen time and all my friends are imaginary.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Boffin

      Well... only if you're a 3 to 10 year old child. I'm guessing you're older, hence past the inversion point and therefore fitting the study's observed trend.

      (And yeah, I got the joke, +1 for that).

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      all my friends are imaginary

      Beat me to it.

      I was about to post : Wait till they reach adulthood. Then all their friends will be imaginary.

      /Cynicism off

      1. Long John Brass Silver badge

        Re: all my friends are imaginary

        Your plastic pal who is "fun" to be with?

  7. Joe W Silver badge
    Gimp

    Imaginary friends?

    Bah, I never needed those, never mind actual human beings (well, they do come in handy, even I had to admit). I was interested only in stuff that worked, wheels, levers, pulleys... and to some extent I still am.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Imaginary friends?

      I was interested only in stuff that worked, wheels, levers, pulleys...

      But are you certain they are real? Or are they all imaginary?

  8. Blofeld's Cat
    Childcatcher

    Er ...

    I asked all my so-called imaginary friends about this, and they assure me they are all real.

    Apparently I'm the imaginary one.

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Er ...

      Simple test:

      1. Do you live in someone else's thumb?

      Yes: You are imaginary

      No: You may be real

      2. does your nose grow when you tell a lie?

      Yes: You are Pinocchio

      No: You are a real boy

      3. Did someone else shit your pants during a night of heavy drinking?

      Yes: You are an alcoholic

      I said it was simple, not useful...

  9. Goobertee
    Coat

    Ancient memory

    My aunt told me--half a century ago--that their family was so poor, she and my mother had to share an imaginary friend. And they never even had a computer or cell phone.

    Sorry. Yes, I'm leaving.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I feel cheated

    When I was a kid there was no such thing as 'social media', and I didn't have any imaginary friends either. I missed out big-time.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I feel cheated

      You were not cheated.

      If you think that Social Media is your friend then you are from a different planet from the rest of us.

      I preferred reading the Wizard back in the day.

  11. Garymrrsn

    The benefits of imaginary friends

    Because they reside in the same mind as your self, an imaginary friend is the only friend you will ever have who understands you perfectly. That is a very useful friend to have when you are too young to accurately articulate your thoughts, fears, needs and feelings to the world at large.

    It's also nice to have an always sympathetic ear when you've had a thrashing.

  12. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Celebrity Imaginary Friends

    I was shown a TV play at school where a young lad thought a radio DJ was his friend. The reveal was the boy was Sid Vicious and the DJ was John Peel. At the time the older folk I most respected were Attila the Stockbroker and David Balfe. I imagined hard enough and now Attila is staying in my flat and he introduced me to Balfie on email. Admittedly you youngsters may have to look up all those names but for me they are a big deal.

    My point is it's not the media, it's universal and timeless. Feeling connected with people in stories. The trick is to have good stories to imagine about. And ta to the internet, it is easier than ever to contact and connect with imaginary celebrity friends. Like, I've had actual normal friends who in fact were pretty poor friends in the long run, so were they imaginary friends? A friendship that ends never was.

    One thing that consoles me when I get abuse on other internet forums is that I know for a fact I'm best friends with everyone on The Register. Maybe delusional but please don't burst that balloon.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: Celebrity Imaginary Friends

      I have an old old old bootleg tape of Attila the stockbroker somewhere! But dig it out of the loft!

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Celebrity Imaginary Friends

        I used to listen to him under my bed covers on John Peel and bought his first album. Then I assumed he died because I was young, until he played my 40th birthday party

        He is getting old now and so is his music. He latest music is by his own admission/ humble brag the best he has ever done - it really is. He is playing the 'early music' show at St Cecilia's hall in the Cowgate, Edinburgh on Friday. Scotland's oldest music venue, very ornate and proper. All 17th century instruments on a punk performance about the ranters and the levellers. Civil war stuff.

        His poetry has improved too. I always liked it but it is just expletive/superlative now. I got him on BBC R4's Poetry Please with a long poem about his mother's dementia. Gut wrenching. He still plays everywhere all the time, over 3,000 gigs under his belt so you have no excuse not to see him. And talk to him, he is just the nicest guy ever.

        Here is a taster, his shortest poem:

        All Lost in The Supermarket

        I don't want cash back

        I just want The Clash back

        That may seem jokey but most of his work is online for free, and it is more serious and in-depth. I could copy it or link to it but that could seem like advertising.

    2. Dippywood

      Re: Celebrity Imaginary Friends

      Pop!

  13. John Savard Silver badge

    Delusional

    When I hear that screen time is preventing children from having "imaginary friends", my reaction is: great! Fewer people coming down with scizophrenia later on!

    Children having imagination is good; confusing imagination with reality is very bad.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Delusional

      "...my reaction is: great! Fewer people coming down with scizophrenia later on!"

      The content of your post is much like it's title.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    their child had blamed their imaginary friend for doing something wrong like

    being totally inflexible on Irish backstop.

  15. genghis_uk
    Happy

    Happy!

    I don't think my idea of imaginary friends will be quite the same after binge watching Happy! on Netflix.

    (Great graphic novel adaptation)

  16. Toni the terrible
    Pint

    I would like an imaginary friend, the real ones are so disapointing...

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