Children should avoid screen time for at least an hour before bedtime and parents should lead by example, according to new guidelines.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says parents must ensure youngsters are not spending too long on smartphones, tablets or watching television, which can disturb sleep patterns and have knock-on effects.

In a UK first, the college has published guidance designed to help parents manage their children's screen time. Following a major review, they acknowledge that high levels of time are linked to a less healthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle and poorer mental health.

But experts said there was little evidence that screen time is directly ‘toxic’ to health. They stopped short of setting recommended time limits, saying there is insufficient evidence that screen time in itself is harmful to child health at any age.

Dr Max Davie, a health officer at the RCPCH, said that children learn 'from example rather than instruction'.He said: ‘It's very difficult to impose [overall] strict limits on your children's screen use if you are constantly on screens yourself. Parents need to get control of their own screen time if they are going to get control of the family's screen time. It's much easier to be authoritative if you practise what you preach.’
在英国皇家儿科与儿童保健学院的一位工作人员——Max Davie博士表示,:“孩子的学习模式是模仿,而不是引导。如果你自己都一直要看屏幕的话,那么对于得孩子进行严格的屏幕时间控制是非常困难的。父母亲如果想要控制整个家庭使用屏幕时间,必须要以身作则。自己先践行自己的推崇,树立权威性才更简单。”

They suggested that parents should approach screen time based on the child's developmental age, the individual need and value the family place on positive activities such as socialising, exercise and sleep.

When screen time displaces these activities, the evidence suggests there is a risk to child wellbeing, they said.

He said: ‘The parent guidelines are sensible insofar as they go, but do not distinguish between different types of screen time.‘The notion that it should stop one hour before bedtime is welcome, but more detail on exactly how to turn off wifi access and keep smartphones out of the bedroom would help parents.’