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Screen time isn't bad for children's health

Leading paediatricians claim there is little evidence that screen use is harmful to children.

Parents have often been warned against letting their children stare at screens for long periods of time out of fear that it may damage their eyes, but new research from doctors has suggested there's little evidence to support these claims, and screen use in itself is not harmful to children.

Guidance from The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) doesn't set screen time limits, but instead simply recommends parents don't allow their children to use electronic devices in the hour before going to bed.

According to the BBC, the report claims devices shouldn't replace sleep, exercising and time with family, but says there's no signs of the screens themselves causing any health problems in children.

The research comes after a separate study found that girls are twice as likely to show signs of depressive symptoms linked to social media use at age 14 compared with boys.

While there are links between higher screen use and problems such as obesity and depression, the RCPCH said it was not clear if this link was causal, so could not definitively say screens are bad for a child's health.

Dr Max Davie, officer for health promotion for the RCPCH, said phones, computers and tablets were a "great way to explore the world", but parents were often made to feel that there was something "indefinably wrong" about them.

He said: "We want to cut through that and say 'actually if you're doing OK and you've answered these questions of yourselves and you're happy, get on and live your life and stop worrying'.

"But if there are problems and you're having difficulties, screen time can be a contributing factor."

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