Switch off their screens an hour before bedtime, child health experts tell parents

Children should switch off screens an hour before bedtime according to the first expert UK guidance aimed at helping parents prevent smartphones and console use becoming harmful.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) review of screen time harms found evidence of links between increased use and sleep disruption, obesity and mental health issues like anxiety and loneliness.

However this does not appear to be due to anything inherently harmful about screen use, but more a result of screen use “displacing positive behaviours”.

The college stops short of setting an upper limit for screen time in the UK, something which health bodies in Canada and the US have done to little effect and which health secretary Matt Hancock has proposed for social media.

While many parents have concerns abut their children spending too much time glued to screens the report said that they should only worry if it’s negatively impacting the child’s wellbeing or family life.