Kids screen time warning says devices should be kept away from dinner table

The England chief medical officer’s advice arrives alongside The Big Issue’s own investigation into time spent with tablets, smartphones and computers

Parents have been warned to keep devices away from the dinner table in new advice to ensure kids do not overindulge on screen time.

England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies released the eight points of guidance in a new report analysing how children’s time spent on smartphones, tablets and computers and in front of the television impacts on their development.

Dame Davies highlighted the importance of face-to-face conversation at the dinner table as well as axing screens from the bedroom to ensure good quality sleep.

She also asked parents to follow schools’ screen time on policy and to make sure that kids don’t use phones while out and about near busy roads.

Other advice included not sharing family photos online, promoting taking breaks, talking to kids about their viewing habits and using apps and parental guidance features to monitor and control screen time.

However, the report does warn that scientific evidence does not yet demonstrate proof of a clear link between screen-based activities and mental health problems – but the report stresses that it “doesn’t mean there is no effect”.

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“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 said. “But we need to take a precautionary approach, and our advice will support children to reap these benefits and protect them from harm.”

The warnings come just as The Big Issue has explored the issue in our latest magazine to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week.

Our investigation into screen time looks and the pros and cons to time spent plugged in as well as how one school in Devon is using time away from devices in the great outdoors to help kids struggling with mainstream education.

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