Screen time in itself is not necessarily harmful, says a report from The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
The RCPCH has published the UK’s first ever ‘Screen Time Guidance’ and in it, it says that it is impossible to recommend appropriate screen time for children as there is not enough evidence to confirm that it is actually harmful.
Instead, it suggests that the
The guidance document states that only when screen time replaces sleep, exercise or socialising will it become a risk to the child’s wellbeing.
The RCPCH’s Officer for Health Promotion, Dr Max Davie, Said,
Technology is an integral part of children and young people’s everyday life. They use it for communication, entertainment and increasingly, 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.
The Screen Time Guidance gives a series of questions to help families, including:
- Is your family’s screen time under control?
- Does screen time interfere with what your family wants to do?
- Does screen time interfere with sleep?
- Are you able to control snacking during screen use?
The last question is linked to evidence that suggests children watching screens can be distracted from feeling full and at the same time are influenced by food advertising.
Dr Davie Said,
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, actions need to be put in place with parents making consequences clear.
Personally, I think it’s great that the RCPCH is placing the onus back onto parents to look at their individual, family situation and make a judgement call.
In theory, according to this new guidance, if your child eats well, sleeps well and participates in regular exercise, they can have as much screen time as they like?