A briefing paper published by the British Psychological Society states that much of the evidence for the negative effects of screen use in children and teenagers is not based on robust enough science.
The report recognises that the issue of children’s digital media use is more complex than just screen time and calls for new guidelines to be built on robust evidence. To do this, it offers a number of recommendations for government officials, policy makers and practitioners interested in the impact of social media and digital technology on children and young people’s mental health.
Recommendations for research include:
- Studies should be designed which can identify causality and increase our understanding of when screen use is harmful and when it is beneficial.
- More qualitative methods, such as interviews, ethnography and participatory research should be employed with young people to understand their media practices and what they want from digital media.
It also offers guidance for families on how to reduce the negative impact that technology can have on some young people’s mental health, which include:
- Discuss the different aspects of digital media with children and encourage positive media use.
- Minimise screen use before bed time.
- Encourage children to engage in a variety of activities away from screens.
Galpin, A. & Taylor, G. (2018). Changing behavior: children, adolescents and screen use. Leicester, England: The British Psychological Society.