Posted: Fri 4th Jan 2019

New report says there’s little evidence that screen time is harmful to kids

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 4th, 2019

There’s little evidence that screen time is harmful to a child’s health the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has said in a new report.

The new guidance published today says parents should not worry about children using devices such as smartphones and computers.

Parents should however avoid letting children use screens an hour before bedtime as it can disrupt sleep.

They should also “be snack aware” if children are going to combine snacks with screen use, “do so as part of an overall diet plan.”

“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.” The RCPCH says.

Pediatricians say families should negotiate screen time limits with their children based upon the needs of an individual child.

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. Dr Davie said:

“Technology is an integral part of the lives of children and young people. They use it for communication, entertainment, and increasingly in education.

Studies in this area are limited but during our research analysis, we couldn’t find any consistent evidence for any specific health or wellbeing benefits of screen time, and although there are negative associations between screen time and poor mental health, sleep and fitness, we cannot be sure that these links are causal, or if other factors are causing both negative health outcomes and higher screen time.

RCPCH has developed four key questions for families to use as a guide to examine their screen time:

Is screen time in your household controlled?

-Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?

-Does screen use interfere with sleep?

-Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

“If a family can ask themselves (or be asked by others) these questions, and are satisfied with the answers, then they can be reassured that they are likely to be doing as well as they can with this tricky issue.”

Dr Davie continues:

“When it comes to screen time I think it is important to encourage parents to do what is right by their family.

However, we know this is a grey area and parents want support and that’s why we have produced this guide.

We suggest that age appropriate boundaries are established, negotiated by parent and child that everyone in the family understands.

When these boundaries are not respected, consequences need to be put in place.

It is also important that adults in the family reflect on their own level of screen time in order to have a positive influence on younger members.

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