UK study: Screen time 'not harmful to children'

UK study: Screen time 'not harmful to children'

"There is not enough evidence to confirm that screen time is in itself harmful to child health at any age", the report started off by saying. It was informed by a review of evidence published at the same time in the BMJ Open medical journal, and follows a debate around whether youngsters should have time on devices restricted.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says parents must ensure youngsters are not spending too long on smartphones, tablets or watching television, which can disturb sleep patterns and have knock-on effects. The college said it was not setting time limits for children because there was not enough evidence that screen time was harmful to child health at any age.

Is your family's screen time under control? 2.

The review was carried out by experts at University College London, including RCPCH president Prof Russell Viner.

The research found links between increased screen time and increases in obesity, depression and sleep deprivation.

88% of those asked said that screen time had a negative effect on their sleep with an average of 1.5 hours being spent on screens before going to sleep.

They suggested that parents should 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.

The new guidance has however advised against children using devices an hour before bedtime because of evidence that this can disrupt sleep.

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While it's true that research is now divided on the issue of screen time's impact on children's wellbeing and mental health, one recent study found increased screen time may have caused depressive symptoms and suicide for teenage girls.

"Although there are negative associations between screen time and poor mental health, sleep and fitness, we can not be sure that these links are causal, or if other factors are causing both negative health outcomes and higher screen time", added Max Davie, RCPCH Officer for Health Promotion, said in a statement.

The RCPCH addressed criticisms that the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) faced following the release of guidelines in recent years for "not being fully evidence-based and being focused on risks, rather than recognizing the potential benefits of digital screen use in education and industry". We very much hope this proposal is implemented but push the Government to go one step further giving children the same protection online and when using on-demand services too'.

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

However, it said evidence for impacts on other health issues was "largely weak or absent".

"We suggest that age-appropriate boundaries are established, negotiated by parent and child, that everyone in the family understands", Dr. Max Davie of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health told the BBC.

"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". The college called for better quality research to understand more about how the content on devices, and the context in which they are used, affects health outcomes.

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