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.
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.