Britain’s guide for parents warns against the dangers of screen time

Do you keep your kids inside while their siblings play computer games? Has your child ever gazed longingly at you from a screen set up at the kitchen counter? If any of these questions…

Britain's guide for parents warns against the dangers of screen time

Do you keep your kids inside while their siblings play computer games? Has your child ever gazed longingly at you from a screen set up at the kitchen counter?

If any of these questions sound familiar, you might want to protect their eyes: today, the UK’s charity Action on Blindness and the RNIB unveiled a new guide for parents about the dangers of screen time.

Dangerous Computer Games for Children a booklet, published jointly with the film company 848 Films, warns that “there is no safe place to play computer games and the games industry will profit the most” from children’s play.

“This guide is all about how to protect your children – it’s not their fault they have been given technology that doesn’t offer positive benefits,” said Prossy Hawn, Head of Children’s Advocacy and Services at Action on Blindness.

“We recognise that children can develop with unique skills, enabling them to have fun, even though they don’t always have the skills needed to run a screen. It’s important that we educate them on what they can do, and learn, and encourage them to reach out to others for help if they need it. But when they’re faced with larger decisions, there is too much pressure on them – this can limit their choices and we need to get better at giving them choices.”

The Guide is based on the research of the Knowledge Partnership, which gathers data on the British games industry. It warns against letting children play computer games at the dinner table and argues that technological advances have led to “violent, sexualised and socially inappropriate behaviour” on game screens.

The guide suggests devices should not be set up in bedrooms or any place where the device is accessible to “petrol pumps or other switches which could lead to the risk of electric shock or fire”. It says the Xbox, iPhone and PlayStation consoles should not be stocked in children’s rooms, advising that games “should not have hidden controls”.

The Guide also warns against the dangers of “younger children playing games to teenage levels or bigger ones”, but warns that with games, as with cars, “the road ahead is more terrifying than the one in front”. “The monitor can capture all kinds of ugly things that a smartphone simply can’t,” it states.

Ultimately, the Guide urges parents to stop their children playing games altogether, arguing that it is a “serious injury” in which “cost, injuries and supervision come into focus”.

“There is no place in your home for games,” it states. “Playing games is both unhealthy and often unsuitable for children because it often involves aggressive play and abusive attitudes.”

“Games also create a sense of loneliness and isolation that can be detrimental to a child’s mental wellbeing, as well as a lack of attention for the home and food preparation.”

The Guide also warns against using screens for those who are prone to pick up illness.

“Some children who are susceptible to illness, such as asthma or eczema, may also find using screens unattractive,” it states. “If you have young children and one watches too much TV, try using a tablet instead. With regards to screen time for an adult, watch out for poor body image and social anxiety caused by spending time on the computer. The internet can exacerbate such things and the biggest losers are young people with poor self-image.”

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