by 👩💻 Stephanie Boyd
The growing dependency upon smartphones – let alone TV and videogames remaining hugely popular with children – has provided parents with plenty to worry about over the years. Just how much ‘screen time’ is healthy for kids on a daily basis? Is too much attention spent on phones and tablets proving to be detrimental to our youngsters’ health? The general consensus is, for the most part, that too much in the way of gizmo-based entertainment isn’t particularly healthy – but leading UK doctors have suggested that, given a balance, screen time shouldn’t be that much of a long-term concern for parents.
According to The Guardian, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has produced comprehensive, specific advice to parents with regard to children and their habits with regard to smartphones and related devices. The general advice, reportedly, is that using phones, tablets and other devices isn’t unhealthy in itself – however, it remains hugely important that parents take the time to balance their children’s interests and activities, and that they ensure they get enough regular exercise, sleep and interaction with their family members.
Little Evidence That Screen Time Is Harmful For Kids, Say Doctors [video]
The focus, according to the advice, is that families should be bringing everyone together as much as possible – and that this aspect of screen time should not be something to worry about providing that their children’s lives are otherwise balanced and healthy. The Royal College’s advice does go somewhat against advice offered by the Government’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock – however, Professor Russell Viner, President of the College and writer of a review for the BMJ Open Journal, has asserted that banning or curfewing technology is not the way forward.
“It is important that we recognize that screens are a modern way of being,” Prof Viner states. “Reading we see as a hugely positive thing, but it is largely a sedentary thing. We have never done studies to look at the link between reading and adiposity but it is sedentary. Five hundred years ago we thought it was bad for women’s brains to teach them to read.”
“Reading and pamphlets have radicalized a lot more young people than screens have ever done. Yet we somehow worry about screens being different.”
Parents told to worry less about children's screen time [video]
While the College acknowledges that there is no certainty with regard to likes between obesity and poor mental health and screen time, it asserts that more research is needed. This should certainly be the case as studies continue to suggest that some screen time, especially that which is related to social media, could be impacting heavily upon youth depression.