Leading pediatricians in the UK have advised parents to worry less about the effects of screen time on their children.
A new guide published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), a professional body in charge of training pediatricians, research competitions that suggest that children’s screen time is harmful.
“The evidence base for a direct” toxic “effect of screen time is challenged, and the evidence of damage is often overestimated,” the guide reads. “Most of the literature that exists is only seen on the TV screen.”
While it is true that research is currently divided on the impact of screen time on the well-being and mental health of children, a recent study found that a longer screen time may have caused depressive symptoms and suicide in adolescents.
Another recent study found that the use of Facebook can negatively affect the well-being of young adults, and Instagram has been named as the most harmful social network for the mental health of young people.
In a UK first, we are launching guidance to help parents manage children’s #screentime. We believe that we need to “let parents be parents”, so our guidance supports parents in adjusting screen use based on what is important to them and their child: https://t.co/3q4ZC5Gpkq pic.twitter.com/302fMLoBya
— RCPCH (@RCPCHtweets) 4 January 2019
But, the RCPCH states that “many of the apparent connections” between screen time and harmful effects “may be mediated by the loss of opportunities for positive activities (socialization, exercise, sleep) that are displaced by screen time” .
The guide recommended that families should “negotiate screen time limits” with children “according to the needs of a particular child”, as well as the ways in which screens are used and “the degree to which the use of The screens seems to displace “sleep and social life and physical activity.
“We would also adopt the experts’ recommendation that the screens be avoided for one hour before bedtime,” said the guide.
RCPCH spoke with 109 children across the UK about their screen time habits and found that 88 percent of the youth surveyed said that screen time has a “negative impact” on their sleep. It is worth noting, however, that the sample size is not representative of the population.