Children’s screen time has hit the headlines again this week, with child health experts saying parents can worry less about the amount of time children spend on phones and tablets.

The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health’s guidance advises that while screen time limits are not necessary, it recommends not using them in the hour before bedtime. Experts say it is important that the use of devices does not replace sleep, exercising and time with family.

Children North East’s Family & Parenting Services Manager Tracey Welsh shared her thoughts on this hot topic on BBC Radio Newcastle.

Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06vbpwk

We chatted to Tracey about how families should approach the big screen time issue.

Education

Advances in technology mean that this generation of parents are the first ones having to tackle limiting technology. Kids feel like it’s an unfair approach and parents can feel unsure about what to do for the best. Education is needed for parents so they can understand the impact unlimited screen time can have on young children’s development.

Moderation

Technology is the way forward so we have to work with it not against it. Supervise closely and don’t be afraid to use parental control and oversight. You know your child best. Like with everything in life, moderation is key. Families need firm boundaries and limitations in place to make sure that their children are safe. Some of the young people we work with don’t realise the impact it has on their emotional well-being – they get sucked in very quickly.

Reality check

Because it’s so accessible, we’re probably choosing a lazy way to communicate instead of having that face to face contact. Social media is not a replacement for human interaction – remember to build in time with real people! Space to hang out together as a family playing a silly game, getting your children and their friends together for a trip to the park. Too many children are isolating themselves in their bedrooms, and this is a distraction to normal daily life which can have a massive long term impact on their future education and work.

Vulnerable Teens

Teens are particularly vulnerable when it comes to over exposure to social media. Popularity and self-image can become something of an obsession, so teens using social media excessively will be hugely hung-up on likes. As a parent you need to be mindful of the physical and emotional impact this is having on your child. Children North East runs a Today’s Teens Programme and it very much focusses on the implications of over-exposure whilst using social media. We help educate them on how they can keep themselves safe to prevent putting themselves at risk by communicating with people that can be a danger to them.

Be a good role model

Let’s be honest here, it’s not just the children glued to their screens... One child told us that her mam doesn’t listen to her coz she’s always on her phone. Are we listening to our children? It’s all about being a good role model!

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