Parents may wish to join kids off-line – leader comment

Computer screens may stimulate the brain, making it harder to get to sleep (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Computer screens may stimulate the brain, making it harder to get to sleep (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
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Children have always rebelled against the idea of bedtime. Why sleep when there are so many exciting things to do?

But the nightly disputes with parents may now be worse than ever, given the evidence that smartphones, tablets and computers have a stimulating effect on the brain.

Now the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has issued its first guidelines on screen time, saying children should not use such devices in the hour before bedtime. This will hopefully help youngsters get a good night’s sleep, although it does raise the prospect of two arguments – about “computers off” and “bedtime” – instead of one.

READ MORE: Turn off children’s gadgets an hour before bedtime, parents advised

The college adds that children should not be so constantly absorbed in the online world that they fail to take exercise or spend time with in-the-flesh humans like their family.

But, as its health promotion officer pointed out, adults should also “reflect” on their own use of such devices. Children learn by copying others and have a refined sense of fairness, so parents may wish to consider joining them in the real world during that off-screen hour.

READ MORE: Changes to ‘body clock’ can increase mental health risks