Limit kids' gadget use, UK's chief medical officer warns

World Sunday 10/February/2019 14:09 PM
By: Times News Service
Limit kids' gadget use, UK's chief medical officer warns

Muscat: The UK Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is calling on parents to place boundaries on screen-based activities following the publication of a report linking them to mental health outcomes among children and young people.

In a commentary on the report, the CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies advised, "We encourage parents and carers to agree boundaries, outside of school and educational use, with CYP (children and young people) around online behaviours and time spent using screens.

"Studies have reported that CYP are worried about their parent's screen use and want them to engage with them, and so adults can lead by example through not using screens excessively in front of children and behaving online as they would in person," the advisory continued.

The officer's commentary came following the publication of a study on possible links between screen-based activities and mental health outcomes in children and young people.

As part of the report, researchers used 82 reviews published between 2007 and 2018. The reviews investigated a range of screen-based activities and their connection to mental health and psychosocial issues, social media, cyberbullying, gaming, and problematic/addictive internet use.

In their report, researchers stated, "Screen-based online platforms are often promoted as a tool to enhance learning, to support the formation and maintenance of social networks and to reduce social isolation and feelings of loneliness.

"However this is often contrasted with their potential to impact mood, self-esteem, anxiety, body image, attention span and focus negatively, particularly as a result of extended or prolonged time engaged with screens."

They added, "Future reviews generating evidence of this kind are needed to improve our understanding of the consequences of, and causal mechanisms that explain how and why, the use of screen-based activities may impact mental health and psychosocial outcomes, over time."