A new report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has found that there is “not enough evidence” behind claims that screen time for children is harmful. The report advises that it would be “impossible” for them to recommend screen time limits based on age, in response to concerns that children spend to much time looking at screens.
Many parents are concerned about gaming in particular, and developers are responding to these fears with new applications designed to control children’s screen time, such as the recent changes to Xbox family settings.
In the report, one study found that 88% of children said screen time had a negative impact on their sleep, after spending an average of 1.5 hours engaged in screen-related activities. The same study also reported that on average, the 109 participants spent on average 2.5 hours on a computer or similar device, 2 hours on phones, and 2 hours watching TV every day.
On this basis, the report recommends that parents should encourage their children to avoid screen time at least an hour before they go to bed, to prevent any detrimental effects on the child’s well-being.
In addition, the report emphasizes that parents should be aware of certification systems “designed to protect children from inappropriate content.” This follows the news from last year that a majority of parents allow their children to play games with adult or age-inappropriate ratings unsupervised.
While an 18+ certification might be mistakenly attributed in some cases, the report advises that these ratings are a responsible method of managing children’s screen habits, especially when older siblings might be playing games with content unsuitable for younger audiences.
This report is the first ever guidance on screen time for children to be published in the UK, and aims to help families become more aware of concerns regarding screen time. More information can be found in the full report.