Electronics are an integral part of our lives, but it's important to unplug, especially for developing children. In a report, chief medical officers in the UK examined how screen-based activities could be affecting children's mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, with most children and young people now having access to the internet and a smartphone by now.
To address societal concerns, the team compiled a list of advice to help parents and caregivers set digital boundaries:
- Prioritize sleep by keeping devices out of the bedroom at bedtime.
- Make sure your child knows and obeys their school's device and screen-time policy.
- Advise your children to put away their smartphone when crossing the street or doing another activity that requires their full attention.
- Set a rule that no phones are allowed at dinner to nurture conversation and undivided attention.
- Teach your children about the dangers of sharing photos and information online. Parents and caregivers should also be mindful of photos they upload of their children.
- Try to work in more physical activity into your child's day if they've had a lot of screentime.
- Keep an eye on your child's behavior and lines of communication open about what they're watching or using their smartphone for. Let them know that they can talk to you.
- Take advantage of special features in devices or apps that monitor screen time.
Doctors noted that scientific research regarding how much screen time is too much is "insufficiently conclusive."
"Even though no causal effect is evident from existing research between screen-based activities, or the amount of time spent using screens, and any particular negative effect, it does not mean that there is no effect," the report said.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun a study that echoes the UK's ideas of technology in moderation. The NIH, however, hypothesize that children who have more than seven hours of daily screen time are physically damaging their brains.
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- Doctors in the UK released a list of tips for parents and caregivers about how to better moderate screentime for children.
- The list suggests keeping phones away from the bedroom and the dinner table, keeping lines of communication open with your child, using screen-time monitors and more.
- Zift parenting app helps protect kids online by blocking searches, monitoring screen time, and more
- Seven or more hours of daily screen time may be changing your kid's brain
- How Facebook and Instagram became as addictive as painkillers
- Goya-Move app blocks apps on kids' phones until they meet a step goal
- Your kids hate your smartphone addiction (CNET)
- What is digital health? Everything you need to know about the future of healthcare (ZDNet)
- New year, new habits: How to digitally detox from your smartphone (TechRepublic)