– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Parents should ban their children from using mobile phones in bed or during mealtimes, new advice from Britain’s top doctors’ states.
The new recommendations are two of eight guidelines on kids’ technology and social media use, issued by the U.K. Chief Medical Officers (UK CMOs).
They advise ensuring your family enjoys “screen-free meal times” together, as it will encourage face-to-face social interaction and allow parents to catch up with kids and give them their full attention. Another piece of advice is to stop kids from taking their phone into their bedrooms – as late-night use could be keeping them awake at night.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, stressed the importance of taking a careful approach to limiting youngsters’ internet use.
“Time spent online can be of great benefit to children and young people, providing opportunities for learning and skills development, as well as allowing young people to find support and information,” she told The Guardian. “But we need to take a precautionary approach, and our advice will support children to reap these benefits and protect them from harm.”
The top doctors’ commentary on their guidelines stated that although there is not enough evidence to suggest spending too much time on electronic devices harms kids mental and physical health, research indicates that technology use can harm kids when it replaces other beneficial activities.
Other guidelines include talking with kids about sharing photos and information online and how these can be manipulated, ensuring they abide by school rules on screen time, taking a break after spending two hours online, and to try and discuss what they watch or read on the internet to ensure it is not causing them distress.
Dr. Bob Patton, a lecturer in clinical psychology at the University of Surrey, emphasised that there was no such thing as a “good” or “bad” amount of time for kids to spend with their tech – suggesting parents should not see research activity as equivalent to time spent on social media.
The Chief Medical Officers also called on U.K. authorities, and social media and technology company bosses to draw up new rules to protect children online.