Don't take phones to bed, health boss tells children

Henrietta Strickland
February 7, 2019

Children should leave their mobile phones outside their bedrooms and parents should enforce screen-free mealtimes, the first official guidance on young people's use of social media recommends.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, asked Professor Davies to...

Among the pointers, parents and carers are told to tell children not to look at screens when crossing the road, and talk to them about what they are using their devices for.

The advice encourages parents to talk to their children about sharing photos and information online, and how this can sometimes be manipulated, as well as warning parents never to assume their children will be happy for photos of them to be shared online.

"Idly flicking through a social media site is not the same as doing research for a project or homework - clearly those are very different activities - but at the moment, they have all got lumped together into a general "how much time do you spend on the screen", he said.

Chief executive Shirley Cramer said: "There is now a generation of digital natives whose world increasingly exists online, and these welcome recommendations highlight the duty of care which the technology industry has to protect our children and young people".

"It can not be stressed enough that further research must be prioritised as a matter of urgency to improve our understanding of the relationship between screen-use, and in particular social media use, on our young people's mental health and wellbeing".

"For over a decade, tech giants have failed to protect their young users, and we can't waste any more time waiting for them to clean up their act", he said.

Her comments follow criticism of social media companies over the death of the British teenager Molly Russell.

Today he will meet senior figures from Instagram, Facebook and Google and urge them to take action to remove images, videos and messages that glamorise suicide or self-harm.

Dame Sally said that if tech companies did help the government on the guidelines, the government would introduce legislation.

Dame Sally said: "Time spent online can be of great benefit to children and young people, providing opportunities for learning and skills development, as well as allowing young people to find support and information".

However, they argue that a precautionary approach is needed to better tread the line of children reaping those benefits and potentially being exposed to harmful content and scenarios.

They also said technology companies must do more to keep children safe.

Dr Calderwood, said: "Screen-based activities and social media use has become part of everyday life - it is important that everyone is aware of the positive and negative impact it has on the health of users".

It also calls for parents and children to take advantage of screen time tracking tools to help monitor their usage habits. It's good to get up and move about a bit. Do you have any rules in your house about screen time?

- So should everyone use screens less?

Talk with your children about using screens and what they are watching.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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