If you’ve ever felt bad about handing your kids your phone to play with – whether you were too busy to entertain them yourself in that moment, or just needed a bit of quiet time – you might be able to stop feeling that way now.
A new report released today is suggesting kids’ screen time in itself is not as detrimental as you might have thought.
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) January 4, 2019
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has said there is not enough evidence to suggest that screen time is "toxic" to a child’s health, but has recommended cutting it out before bedtime.
Crucially, the RCPCH has also suggested four questions to consider if you are worried about your children and their tablet, phone and computer use:
- Is your family’s screen time under control?
- Does screen use interfere with what your family wants to do?
- Does screen use interfere with sleep?
- Are you able to control snacking during screen time?
"It is important to encourage parents to do what is right by their family," says Dr Max Davie, the college’s officer for health promotion. "We suggest that age-appropriate boundaries are established, negotiated by parent and child that everyone in the family understands."
While some people on social media are welcoming the report and its guidance…
Good discussion on @GMB w/ @russellviner helping to ease parental anxiety about children's screen time. Clear message that there's no evidence to suggest screen time itself is a problem, need to learn more about what screens are actually being used for. #socialmedia #screentime— Shannon McNee (@ShannonMcNee2) January 4, 2019
Excellent interview from @RCPCHPresident just now on @BBCr4today. Having just spent 2 weeks with my 3yo whilst also v pregnant, there’s been a good dose of screen time 📺. But he has also built dens, been for walks, played play doh, had 100s of stories, baked, been to the Zoo...— Leonora Merry (@leonoramerry) January 4, 2019
Others are not convinced allowing screen time is a good option:
Electronic devices are basically modern day childminders. #screentime— Dave Grohl's hair (@RandiSav) January 4, 2019
With some arguing it can affect attention and focus in school:
Screen time is detrimental I recently stopped work as a TA in a Recepltion class, children start school with very limited language and can barely string sentences together .. scary how that has changed in a few years. Parents collecting their child staring at a screen too 😡— Katie Retter (@RetterKatie) January 4, 2019
While others say the advice parents receive on screen time is often conflicting:
For many, it’s really a question of finding balance between a child’s screen time and other activities…
According to The Guardian, paediatricians are saying that #screentime is not inherently bad for children, but #Parents do need to focus on making sure their children get enough #sleep, #exercise and family interaction. As usual with these things it's about getting a balance.— Paul Stockley (@bradwaystockley) January 4, 2019
Depends if the kids are getting time for imaginary play, fresh air and exercise too. If they are then screen time is fine— Hobbit's Wife (@HobbitsWife) January 4, 2019
Ultimately though, it depends on the individual child, and how your family works as a unit…
#screentime advice today is that it isn’t damaging to children’s health. Great news but it’s about balance. If they are exercising, socialising in real time and sleeping and they are mature enough not to compare and despair then all good.— TeenTipsLtd (@TeenTipsLtd) January 4, 2019