The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers have released the first official advice regarding social media and technology. The senior clinicians said “technology can be a wonderful thing” but that too much time sitting down or using mobile devices can get in the way of important, healthy activities.

The CMOs – Professor Dame Sally Davies for England, Dr Catherine Calderwood for Scotland, Dr Frank Atherton for Wales and Dr Michael McBride for Northern Ireland – said their advice for parents, children and young adults includes leaving phones outside the bedroom when it is bedtime, taking a break after a couple of hours sitting or lying down using a screen, and having “screen free” meals together can enjoy face-to-face conversation, with adults giving their full attention to children. Parents should also “talk openly” with children about how and whether photos and information should be shared online.

What does the guidance recommend parents do?

There are several clear steps for parents, which the chief medical officers say will help keep children safe and healthy.

These include:

• not using phones and mobile devices at the dinner table – talking as a family is very important for development.
• keeping screens out of the bedroom at bedtime.
• talking as a family about keeping safe online and about cyber-bulling and what children should do if they are worried.
• not using phones when crossing a road or doing any other activity that requires a person’s full attention.
• making sure children take a break from screens every two hours by getting up and being active.
• policing their own use too – parents should give their children proper attention and quality family time and never assume they are happy for pictures to be shared.

For more on this, please watch this news item from the BBC.


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