Senior medical officers’ release recommendations and advice for parents and carers regarding screen time and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing | Department of Health and Social Care
In 2018, the UK Chief Medical Officers commissioned independent researchers to map published research on screen time, social media, and children and young people’s mental health. This research was published in January 2019 in the report Screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing: a systematic map of reviews , and today The Department of Health and Social Care have published the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) commentary on this research.
In the document, the CMOs said, in the UK most children and young people had grown up with internet-enabled technology in their home or school. Many had early access to smartphones and similar devices that can be used outside the home or school.
The internet and social media could be a force for good in society, said the CMOs, as they helped to promote social contact and children could access advice, education, support and information, while apps were increasingly being used to help young people manage health conditions and access online learning.
However, at the same time, parents and carers, children and educational professionals, health professionals, academics and politicians had expressed concern that the amount of time children spent engaged in screen-based activities could be detrimental to their physical and mental health.
What does the guidance recommend parents do?
There are several recommendations for parents, which the chief medical officers say will help keep children safe and healthy.
- not using phones and mobile devices at the dinner table – talking as a family is very important for development
- keeping screens out of the bedroom at bedtime
- talking as a family about keeping safe online and about cyber-bulling and what children should do if they are worried
- not using phones when crossing a road or doing any other activity that requires a person’s full attention
- making sure children take a break from screens every two hours by getting up and being active
- policing their own use too – parents should give their children proper attention and quality family time and never assume they are happy for pictures to be shared
- Screen time: Children advised not to use electronic devices at dinner | BBC News
- Do not let children take electronic devices into bedrooms, say doctors | The Guardian
- Screen time and social media: Interventions to protect our children’s health | BMJ