It is the one question haunting most parents today. It is also a hotly debated topic. As technology pierces thourgh our lives seamlessly and fast, most parents are left wondering how much access should children and youngsters have to gadgets and devices. The increasing screen time among children has sparked off various theories and studies.
As more and more children get their hands on smartphones and tablets, researchers are busy investigating the effects of these devices on a child's brain and behaviour.
In a recently published report in the BMJ Open Medical Journal, the researchers have indicated that screen time may not be as hazardous to children as parents originally thought. A strong yet relieving statement to make, however, the story is a bit more complicated than that.
Is Too Much Screen Time A Bad Thing?
Leaders in child medicine The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health or RCPCH, have produced a guide for those under 18 and their screen time usage. In short, the guide stands on the grounds that there is no good evidence that too much time in front of a screen is overly toxic.
Previous studies indicated a potential correlation between higher screen use and obesity and depression. However, the RCPCH refute these claims, believing that the evidence does not fully support this hypothesis.
Lead by RCPCH president Prof Russell Viner, the team focused not on restricting screen time but rather if devices prevented children from participating in other “real-world” activities. Researchers in the guide discussed that smart device should not replace sleep, exercise, and time with family.
Even more so, devices should not be used an hour before bed, because the noted effects to sleep patterns. Excessive screen time can also make existing bad habits worse in children, according to the study.
Nevertheless, conductor of the study like officer for health promotion for the RCPCH, Dr. Max Davie maintains that phones and tablets are actually a “great way to explore the world”.
Dr. Max Davie wants to remove the negative stigma or even guilt parents have with allowing their kids to spend a lot of time on devices. "We want to cut through that and say 'actually if you're doing OK and you've answered these questions (below) of yourselves and you're happy, get on and live your life and stop worrying”, says Davie.
The RCPCH has even provided a list of questions you should ask to help you better decide if you, in fact, want to restrict your child’s screen time.
- 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?
What do you think about limiting the time children spend on devices? Do you believe it has harmful effects?