Why Parents Shouldn't Worry About Their Kid's Screen Time

Image Shutterstock  SFIO CRACHO

Image Shutterstock SFIO CRACHO

Parents have been told to worry less about the use of electronic devices, with guidance from leading paediatricians saying there is little evidence screen use for children is harmful in itself.

Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said we need to "let parents be parents" and adjust the amount of time spent on screens by all members of the family, depending on what's important to them and their child.

Does screen use interfere with what your family wants to do?

Does screen use interfere with sleep? 4. It was informed by a review of evidence published at the same time in the BMJ Open medical journal, and follows a debate around whether youngsters should have time on devices restricted. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), which oversees the training of specialists in child medicine, has produced the guidance for under-18s.

The guidance includes four key questions aiming to help families make decisions about screen time.

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Professor Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH, said there was conflicting evidence about whether children should be set a daily threshold.

-Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

Dr Davie added, 'We know that watching screens can distract children from feeling full and they are also often exposed to advertising which leads to higher intake of unhealthy foods.

"We want to cut through that and say 'actually if you're doing OK and you've answered these questions of yourselves and you're happy, get on and live your life and stop worrying, '" he said.

Ultimately, the findings suggest that there's simply "not enough evidence" that screen time is harmful to a child's health at any age - however, parents should be taking a more "active role" in helping their children understand that the less time they spend with their screen, the better. We very much hope this proposal is implemented but push the Government to go one step further giving children the same protection online and when using on-demand services too'.

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"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that screen time is damaging school performance and sports performance and [is] dangerously addictive", said Andy, whose son is 14-years old, in response to the article, adding that he achieved better results by restricting his son's screen time usage to the weekend, and, "despite some grumbling", soon thereafter began noticing marked improvements in his son's school performance.

Andy said he had restricted his son's screen time to Friday after school and Saturday, and, despite some "grumbling", there had been an improvement in school performance.

35% said that screen time had a negative effect on their mental health and mood with evidence showing "Children with higher screen time, particularly over 2 hours per day, tend to have more depressive symptoms". While there's evidence that shows that blue light exposure suppresses melatonin production and keeps you awake - and blue light suppression reduces this effect - research doesn't yet say that night modes will help you sleep.

When screen time displaces these activities, the evidence suggests there is a risk to child wellbeing, they said.

However, it said evidence for impacts on other health issues was "largely weak or absent". Instead, it's suggested that parents use the "child's developmental age, the individual need and value the family place on positive activities" to create screen time guidelines. The college called for better quality research to understand more about how the content on devices, and the context in which they are used, affects health outcomes.

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