In focus: Lack of hard evidence on screen time prevents action

A dearth of actionable evidence on screen time has hamstrung the industry. And, caught in a quagmire of mixed messages and uncertain advice, what do practitioners say to patients about screen time and its effects? Sean Rai-Roche reports

‘There is not enough evidence to confirm that screen time is in itself harmful to child health at any age,’ said the first ever guidance on children’s screen time published in the UK.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCHCP) published the ‘Screen Time Guidance’ following a review of evidence by University College London (UCL), which was published in BMJ Open.

It was a slightly surprising statement given the close associations between excessive screen time and poor health – obesity, depressive states and poor diet.

It followed research findings that ‘there is evidence that higher levels of screen time is associated with a variety of health harms for children and young people (CYP), with evidence strongest for obesity, unhealthy diet, depressive symptoms and quality of life’.

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