Being a parent in the digital age is a nightmare for anyone with a young child or teenager, but the U.K.’s chief medical officer has recently come out with some sound advice: ban screens from bedtimes and the dinner table.
Their recommendations are based recent research by a people at University College London. The government advises to make time for things other than devices, talking as a family during mealtimes and encouraging children to be open about any worries they have regarding online safety and cyber-bullying.
Other simple measures include encouraging children to not use their phones when doing an activity that requires concentration and making sure they take a break every two hours.
It’s not just the children either: the study stresses that parents should be aware of their position as role models and manage their own screen time — while also never assuming that their children are happy to have their pictures shared on social media.
Some guidelines, like those issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggest keeping screen time to an hour a day for 2 to 5-year-olds. The U.K. chief medical officer focuses on what kids might be missing out on if they spend too much time on screens. This includes time spent with their parents, exercising, sleeping, or looking both ways before crossing the street.
A report late last year found that American children were coming up short on sleep and exercise, perhaps due to too much time spent on screens.
One thing is for sure: mobile devices aren’t going away any time soon, so this will remain a problem for parents for the foreseeable future.