Tuesday , April 20 2021

Screen time may not be as toxic to children as you think

Do not tell the children, but often the screening time, often disgusting, may not be so bad for their health after all the research.

There is "essentially no proof" that watching television, iPad and laptops has a direct "toxic" effect on children's health, say top pediatricians in the UK, suggesting that associated dangers can be exaggerated.

"Screen time was cited in the media as the cause of obesity, mental health problems and educational failure," experts in the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) write in a new guide for doctors and parents. "The evidence base for a" toxic "direct effect of screen time is being challenged, and evidence of harm is often overestimated."

The group formed a set of guidelines based on research analysis published in the BMJ Open this month, which found some evidence linking the screen with obesity and depression. But the RCPCH position is that the negative effects are mostly due to choosing one activity to another, such as when people choose to be on the screens rather than sleep, eat well, exercise or socialize.

"We think this is the main way that screen time and negative results can be linked," they write.

The group said it could not come up with a suggestion of "cut-off" for parents because of the weak evidence found in the review. Instead, their main recommendation is that parents negotiate with children, on the basis of their individual needs, the way screens are used and how much they prevent exercise, socialization and sleep.

Their most specific recommendations are that screens should be avoided one hour before bedtime and that families are asking the following questions when assessing the screen's time-frames:

  1. Is screen time controlled in your home?

  2. Does the screen interfere with what your family wants to do?

  3. Does the screen interfere with sleep?

  4. Can you control snacking during the screen?

The RCPCH addresses critics that the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have been faced with guidance over the past few years because "they do not rely entirely on evidence and rather focus on risks than on recognizing the potential benefits of using digital screens in education and industry. " The CPS suggested in 2017 that children younger than two are zero and children aged between two and five remain at an hourly daily limit.

There is still much research to be done on the impact on screens in children and adolescents, especially around screening content and impact on mental health, RCPCH wrote in their new guidelines. In a separate study, published Friday in EClinicalMedicine, researchers surveyed 11,000 young people about social media, online harassment and body image. The study found that girls aged 14 are more likely than boys to experience depressive symptoms related to social environments.

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