Good news for advocates of tablets and e-readers in education: the UK’s Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health has just released a report finding that evidence of screen time harming children is “often overstated.” They note that most of the current literature only looks at television. This leaves out a lot of the more common uses for small screens such as reading, game-playing, or communicating via the Internet.
The RCPCH report notes that there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence yet to provide any solid guidelines for setting limits on amounts of screen time, and more harm seems to come from using the screen instead of doing other positive activities, such as socializing, exercise, or sleep.
Overall, the report suggests tailoring screen time limitations to the needs of individual children, making sure that they’re not missing out on physical and social activities or sleep, and turning off the screens at least an hour before bedtime.
This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise to me. Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether something has harmful effects or not—and even when the science seems settled, there can always be some new discovery down the road to reverse things. Also, it’s ordinary human nature to be suspicious of things that are new and different than you grew up with. The Internet and computers in general have come in for a lot of that over the years.
It seems like entirely reasonable advice to set limits based on the needs of the individual child, and to pay attention to what the screen use is replacing. Moderation is important in all things. That’s a much better philosophy than just being scared of screen time because it is screen time.
(Found via Mashable.)
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