Topic 1 Introduction

It is important to discern what normal use is and what may be problematic.

  • The amount of time spent on the digital content is being more and more recognised as not the decisive factor. Children and adolescents can spend a lot of time on digital content and still be healthy and vice versa.
  • This is why there is a need for a holistic view, which would take into account various aspects of a child and adolescent’s life, acknowledging that we live in an increasingly digitalised world.
  • Also, awareness should be raised about the possible confounds, such as sedentary behaviour, which exists irrespectively of screen time. This means that the fact that some children do little physical activity is most probably not caused by their screen time, but it is an independent issue.
  • A very small number of children and adolescents develop problematic Internet use and therefore the behaviour should not be easily pathologised. Problematic users generally spend more time on the internet activities, but there are also many healthy users who spend a lot of time online. The criteria shown in Topic 2 are key.
  • Besides, the fact that Internet use is diverse and includes many activities: gaming, the use of social media and of other online applications and activities (e.g., searching for information, shopping online, watching online pornography) should be taken under consideration.

Why focusing on “screen time” is wrong

In the following video Dr Andrew Przybylski, the Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, dispels different myths surrounding the “screen time” of children and adolescents and explains why focusing of this concept is wrong and has led to failed policies. He proposes some concrete actions that parents can take to be more proactive about their children’s technology use.