Guidelines for parents on screentime

The UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a Guidance for parents and caregivers on screen time for children.

Interestingly, RCPCH concluded that the evidence is weak for a threshold to guide children and parents to the appropriate level of screen time, and so they do not recommend a strict timelimit on children’s screen time overall.

Rather, the Guidance recomments an approach that supports parents in managing screen time and replacing it with activities that encourage family and face to face interaction as well as more sleep, more exercise and less snacking while using screens.

Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for RCPCH says that parents should adjust the amount of time spent on screens by all members of the family, using age appropriate boundaries, depending on the what is a priority for them and their child.

Dr Davie said:

“Technology is an integral part of the lives of children and young people. 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.

The RCPCH Guidance also poses a series of questions aimed at helping families make decisions about screen time, including:

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

You can download the Guidance as a PDF here, along with a fact sheet and infographic.

Australia’s Office of the eSafety Commissioner also has guidelines for parents on setting limits for screen time which can be downloaded here.