The Unexpected Victims Of Too Much Screen Time

Imaginary friends are fading away

What you need to know
  • Screens are affecting children's creativity and imagination
  • With less time to be bored, kids no longer need imaginary friends

For years, educators and health professionals have been raising concerns about the detrimental impact that the prevalence of screens in children’s lives could be having on the development of their imagination and creativity.

And now a poll of 1000 childcare workers conducted by has revealed that, in their opinion, the prevalence of this technology has led to the untimely death of imaginary friends.

Imaginary friends are disappearing.

72% of workers believed that fewer children have imaginary friends now compared to five years ago, and 63% said that they think screens are making children less imaginative.

The logic makes sense: as children spend more and more time interacting on devices such as tablets, computers and phones, they have less downtime and, therefore, are less reliant on creating imaginary friends to pass the time.

David Wright, owner of Paint Pots Nursery group, Southampton, said: "One or two children in our nursery do have imaginary friends but they mainly come out at home, when children are alone…I think that children are not allowed to be 'bored' anymore…When children have free time to themselves, they find something creative to do with their mind, such as forming an imaginary friend."

Of course, let’s not forget that adults are taking up the mantle of creating imaginary friends themselves. For example, on Facebook alone, this writer has almost 1800 imaginary friends, many of who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in years.

In contrast, my childhood imaginary friend, Rupert, comes over to visit at least once a week and we talk about the good old days when we would build sandcastles together and go driving down the coast.

Pictured: Rupert.

Though, it should be noted that Rupert was a terrible driver, due largely to his lack of arms, torso, legs or any physical matter needed to press down on the accelerator.

So, if you’re reading this right now, maybe turn off your device, close your eyes, and wait for boredom to settle in. And, if you see Rupert, let him know he still owes that petrol money.

With AAP