New screen time guidance advises parents to consider not using phones at dinner and bedtime

By Internet Matters Team on

Based on research into children’s screen-based activities commissioned in 2018, the UK Chief Medical Office has given advice for parents and carers on how to help children develop balanced screen use.

BBC News coverage of new screen time guidance announce and advice from Psychologist Dr Linda Papaopoulos

Here are the top tips outlined in the guidance:

1. Sleep Matters

Getting enough, good quality sleep is very important. Leave phones outside the bedroom when it is bedtime.

2. Education Matters

Make sure you and your children are aware of and abide by, their school’s policy on screen time.

3. Safety when out and about

Advise children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention.

4. Family time together

Screen-free meal times are a good idea – you can enjoy face-to-face conversation, with adults giving their full attention to children.

5. Sharing sensibly

Talk about sharing photos and information online and how photos and words are sometimes manipulated. Parents and carers should never assume that children are happy for their photos to be shared. For everyone – when in doubt, don’t upload!

6. Keep Moving!

Everyone should take a break after a couple of hours sitting or lying down using a screen. It’s good to get up and move about a bit. #sitlessmovemore

7. Talking helps

Talk with children about using screens and what they are watching. A change in behaviour can be a sign they are distressed – make sure they know they can always speak to you or another responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with screen or social media use.

8. Use helpful phone features

Some devices and platforms have special features – try using these features to keep track of how much time you (and with their permission, your children) spend looking at screens or on social media.

More to explore

Get more support on-screen time to help your child:

Visit our Screen Time advice hub

Download  UK CMO commentary on ‘Screen-based activities and children and young people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing’

See latest online safety research