Excessive use & children’s wellbeing

Posted on 16 May 2014

We need to talk about how children use technology, as well as how much

Today, the front page of the Daily Mail reported that Public Health England submitted evidence to MPs stating that excessive use of the internet and time in front of screens can harm children’s mental health.

According to the Daily Mail, the report states that:

“Children who spend more time on computers, watching TV and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression. This relationship is particularly negative among those who engage in high levels of screen use – more than four hours a day.”

In addition, last week, Tablets for Schools launched the results of a survey of 2,228 11-17 year olds, which found that almost 40% of pupils sometimes feel addicted to their internet enabled device (smartphone, laptop or tablet).

Their charter to counter internet addiction was created by young people to set out some ground rules, such as switching off their devices when they go to sleep and finding other boredom busters.

Childnet’s perspective

As with everything in life, it’s all about finding a balance. It’s important to teach children strategies to help them manage their technology use, and we think the Tablet for Schools charter is a great step in helping children reflect on how much they use technology.

We also need to think about how children use technology in addition to how much.

The internet and digital technologies have fantastic potential to support young people’s creativity, learning, fun and socialising, but we need to help young people develop these positive uses of the internet, and help them to avoid unhealthy digital behaviours.

It’s really important that parents role model this behaviour too. We recommend having a family agreement, where you set out strategies to help your family manage your time spent using technology, as well as a whole range of rules about safe and positive internet use. But remember – the same rules apply to everyone in the family!

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