“Families should ban phones at bedtime and keep them away from the dinner table”, according to the first official advice on social media and screen use from the UK’s top doctors.
The advice by officials forms part of a ‘precautionary approach’, following an independent review on the effect of social media and screen use in young people and children.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England said, “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.”
“But we need to take a precautionary approach and our advice will support children to reap these benefits and protect them from harm.”, she added.
Introducing clearer terms of conditions, improving age verification, and sharing anonymised data for scientific research to help improve understanding on the effect of screen time on young people could be part of the measures to protect children online.
Today, the UK CMOs have published their commentary on screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health along with some advice for parents.https://t.co/QSrdnZ7wxj
— Prof Sally Davies (@CMO_England) February 7, 2019
Chief Medical Officers’ Key Recommendations:
– Do not use phones and mobile devices at the table – talking about family is very important for the development
– Keep the screens out of the bedroom before bedtime
– To talk like a family about online security and cyberbullying and what children should do if they are worried
– Do not use mobiles when crossing a street or practice an activity that requires the utmost attention of a person
– Making sure the children take a break from the screens every two hours, getting up and remaining active
– Parents should give their children adequate attention and quality family time, without ever assuming they are happy to share photos
The guide was also welcomed by Facebook, which said it wanted to work with the government and the ‘society in general’ to ensure that young people can make the most of the Internet while they are safe.