As technology becomes increasingly prevalent in the lives of people around the world, the potential negative effects of increased screen time become more important to research and understand. Various research articles published over the years have argued that screen time has direct negative effects on people, particularly children, but a new study claims that there is not enough evidence to argue that a direct link between negative effects and screen time exists.
The study was published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPH) in the UK, and consisted of researchers consulting 109 individuals aged 11 to 24 about their screen time habits. The researchers asked the young people how screen time has impacted their lives, ranging from their sleep to their mental health. Based on the data collected, researchers came to the conclusion that there is “not enough evidence to confirm that screen time is in itself harmful to child health at any age,” and therefore it is “impossible to recommend age appropriate time limits.”
According to the study, the potentially harmful effects of screen time is not from the actual screen time itself, but rather what is sacrificed in favor of spending more time in front of a screen. When children are spending their time in front of a screen, whether that be playing video games, surfing the web, or browsing on their smartphones, instead of exercising or socializing, that’s when there is a risk to a child’s well-being.
Dr. Max Davie of RCPH recommends that instead of providing strict guidelines of how much screen time kids should have, society should instead “let parents be parents.” Essentially, parents should be setting boundaries for their kids and determining the appropriate amount of screen time for their particular child.
Dr. Davie acknowledges that while screen time itself may not be inherently harmful to kids, according to the study (which we must stress was conducted by compiling the opinions of kids themselves), there are aspects of screen time that could be harmful. Kids are often exposed to unhealthy foods and other advertisements when on their phones or other devices, and as previously mentioned, they may replace important aspects of their lives, like exercise, with screen time.
Dr. Davie recommends that even more research be done to better understand screen time and its potential impact on children, as well as any potential positive benefits. For now, it seems moderation is the way to go.
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