Skip to content

Parenting Wins And Cave-Ins: Balancing Healthy Habits And Digital Devices

New research reveals parents' top achievements and compromises, including healthy eating struggles and screen time concerns.

The average parent has a whopping 190 “parenting wins” and 218 “cave-ins” a year, new research suggests.

Parents’ top three “wins” are when their kid takes care of their hygiene (16%), gets dressed in time for school (15%), and eats fruits and vegetables (14%). The top three “cave-ins” include letting their kid eat the foods and snacks they want (21%), letting them have dessert before dinner (18%) and giving them a device during mealtime (17%).

This is according to a survey of 2,000 parents with school-age kids that looked at how parents celebrate small successes, especially with eating healthy foods and using digital devices, with their young ones.

The average parent has a whopping 190 “parenting wins” and 218 “cave-ins” a year, new research suggests. PHOTO BY JULIA M CAMERON/PEXELS 

To get children to eat healthily, parents set up a reward system (17%), add dressing, sauce, dip, whipped cream or ice cream to their kid’s food (14%), and use utensils or dinnerware with characters (11%).

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by OmniActive Health Technologies for its “Lutein for Every Age” initiative, an education program focused on children’s eye health and the importance of incorporating key nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin into diets, results also found some parents chose the stealthy route, hiding veggies in other dishes their kids enjoy.

Mac n’ cheese and cupcakes tied for the No. 1 easiest food to sneak vegetables into (16% each), followed by muffins (14%) and pureed soups (10%).

At the same time, nine in 10 catch themselves caving into their kids’ requests, and most parents cave after only three asks; ironically, 61% say it’s “easy” to say no to their child’s request.

As it relates to vision check-ups, nearly one in five parents (17%) said their kid’s vision has gone unchecked for three or more years. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends eye exams for asymptomatic children once between 6–12 months of age, at least once between ages 3–5, then before first grade and annually thereafter.

Interestingly though, according to the data, six in 10 parents regularly worry about their child’s eye health, more than other aspects of their well-being, but are unfamiliar with ways they can support it.

The average parent has a whopping 190 “parenting wins” and 218 “cave-ins” a year, new research suggests. PHOTO BY JULIA M CAMERON/PEXELS 

In fact, only 21% give them vitamins and supplements to protect their vision and 23% give them fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins/minerals for eye health. And the top foods/beverages that parents serve their kids to support eye function are milk, apples, and salmon.

Drilling down into more food specifics, while carrots rank in the top spot in fruits or vegetables that parents think support eye health (15%), according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), dark leafy greens such as kale are better, because of their high concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin. In the survey, kale ranked last among foods parents think help support vision, suggesting knowledge gaps in nutritional needs for eye health.

“This survey shows that many adults don’t know what foods or beverages support their kids’ eye health, yet it’s a major health concern of theirs,” said Keri Glassman MS, RD, CDN and Nutritional Advisor for OmniActive’s Lutein for Every Age initiative. “Kale, along with spinach, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and egg yolk, for example, have lutein and zeaxanthin, two major carotenoids that help protect our eyes, and that naturally occur in the eye’s macula and brain. Since kids generally don’t eat a lot of these foods, look for fortified beverages and supplements with lutein and/or zeaxanthin to help maintain their eye health alongside encouraging them to incorporate these foods into their diet.”

Also, the survey found that three in four (75%) parents try to reduce their kid’s screen time in favor of outdoor time at least once a week, as the average child spends four hours a day using digital devices. This equates to over 1,500 hours a year — and that’s only the screen time parents know.

Only 13% of parents give their child blue light glasses to use when they’re on their devices.

“Taking care of our eyes starts from the inside, like eating nutrient-dense foods, and works best when adding extra protection on the outside, such as wearing sunglasses,” said Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO and Vision Advisor for OmniActive’s Lutein for Every Age initiative. “With the amount of time kids spend on digital devices, it’s important for them to take consistent breaks so their eyes can recover from digital fatigue. I recommend setting time limits on devices and getting outside as much as possible. In fact, research shows that spending around 13 hours a week outside is associated with a decrease in myopia or nearsightedness.”


  • When my kid takes care of their hygiene – 16%
  • When my kid gets dressed in time for school – 15%
  • When my kid eats fruits and vegetables – 14%
  • When my kid wakes up in time for school – 14%
  • When my kid goes outside to play or hang with friends – 9%
  • When my kid spends time with me/other family members – 9%
  • When my kid does their homework/ studies – 5%


  • Letting them eat the foods and snacks they want – 21%
  • Letting them have dessert before dinner – 18%
  • Giving them a device during mealtime – 17%
  • Buying them what they want – 13%
  • Letting them have more screen time – 13%
  • Letting them go out with their friends – 10%
  • Letting them stay up later – 5%

3.66 “parenting wins” a week x 52 weeks = 190.32 a year

4.19 parenting “cave-ins” a week x 52 weeks = 217.88 a year

The average child spends 4.13 hours a day using digital devices x 365 days in a year = 1,507.45 hours a year.

Produced in association with SWNS Research

(Additional reporting provided by Talker Research)

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners