New ‘Screen Time Guidance’ Published Today – Screen time in itself not harmful to child health

This morning from my home, I spoke to BBC Radio Wales with Cardiff Mummy Says about the new ‘screen time guidance’ published today.

I must admit I am quite disappointed by the new guidance that has been published today.

To me, a lot of what the guidance is saying is common sense.

As parents we know that screen time can interfere with social events, family time, dinner time and even homework.

We know that playing on a tablet or game station can become addictive, yet these guidelines are sort of giving us the go ahead as they have found it causes no harm in moderation.

But when do parents know how much time on a device is enough? Surely if the guidelines offered something more structured, parents would have an idea on healthy screen time.

Something simple such as, 1 hour a day for 5 year olds, 1.5 hours a day for 8 year old’s, may prove helpful to parents needing guidance.

Read the outcomes below:
In a UK first, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) publishes new guidance to help parents manage children’s screentime.

There is not enough evidence to confirm that screen time is in itself harmful to child health at any age, making it impossible to recommend
age appropriate time limits, says the first ever guidance on children’s screen time to be published in the UK.

The ‘Screen Time Guidance’ published today by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), instead suggests parents approach
screen time based on the child’s developmental age, the individual need and value the family place on positive activities such as socialising, exercise and sleep – when screen time displaces these activities, the evidence suggests there is a risk to 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 children and young people’s everyday life. 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.

To help us develop a better understanding of this issue, I urge both more and better research, particularly on newer uses of digital media, such as social media.”

In the guidance, the RCPCH has published a series of questions which aim to help families make decisions about their screen time use.

Questions include:

  • Is your family’s screen time under control?
  • Does screen use interfere with what your family want to do?
  • Does screen time interfere with sleep?
  • Are you able to control snacking during screen time?

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, actions need to be put in place with parents making consequences clear.”

“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.”

Also commenting on the guidance,
Dr David Tuthill, Officer for Wales, for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“For the first time, parents in Wales have official guidance to help them approach screen time with their children and with high screen
time linked to excess weight -27% of Welsh children are overweight by the time they start primary school – we see this guidance as one of the many drivers for obesity reduction.

This new guidance suggests using a child’s developmental age, the individual need and value the family place on positive activities such as socialising, exercise and sleep to negotiate screen time as we know when it displaces these activities, there is a risk to child wellbeing. As a parent myself, I know changing screen time habits can make you an unpopular parent which is why I’d also recommend parents live by example and set their screen time as they wish to manage their child’s.”

What are you views on the new ‘Screen Time Guidance’?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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