Bad weather and the lure of our favourite games, social media and streamed TV shows makes spending time in front of a screen a difficult habit for many of us to break. And you probably know that limiting a child’s screen time to a set number of hours per day is advised to avoid disturbed sleep, broken concentration and the risk of obesity that comes from moving less.

But still research has show that children aged 5 and under are reportedly spending around 30 hours per week watching TV or video or playing games. This figure rises to 60 hours per day for 8 to 12-year olds.

GPs have spoken out about a clearly perceptible link between mental ill-health in youngsters and their use of social media, while a 2017 study suggested a link between feelings of inadequacy and anxiety with the use of Snapchat and Instagram. Recommendations have been made to protect children and young adults from such negative experiences including watermarking manipulated images, pop-up prompts reminding young users to switch off their screens after a given time and lesson for children on how to protect their mental health when using social media.

So where do you start drawing the line?

Consider capping screen time, if –
• The quantity and quality of their sleep suffers as a result of late-night screen use
• Chatting and playing with friends is done mostly online
• Mealtimes are disturbed by mobile phone use
• You suspect cyber bullying or grooming
• Money is being spent online without permission
• Social media is making your child sad

To read more about balancing screen time with healthy habits, visit – https://www.rsph.org.uk/about-us/news/rsph-welcomes-cmos-advice-to-help-parents-balance-social-media-and-screen-time-with-healthy-living.html

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