Families should ban mobile phones at bedtime, according to one of Europe’s top doctors.
The guidance has been published by Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.
She said social media use was disrupting children’s sleep and phones should be left outside the bedroom at night.
Dr Calderwood said youngsters are waking up to read messages and interrupted sleep is affecting their schoolwork.
She told BBC Radio Scotland: ‘Because we know that children are waking up deliberately to check their messages, or their messages wake them up, that’s why we’ve said to put phones outside the bedroom.
‘The effect of interrupted sleep is really is quite significant on children’s health and well-being, and on their concentration at school.
‘We would want people to be sensible and think about whether their children are getting enough sleep.’
Dr Calderwood said research had shown a link between increased screen time and children’s depression levels.
She said: ‘What we have seen is a rise in children’s depression rates, a rise in children saying their quality of life is lower if they are using screens for long periods of time.’
Scientists from University College London claimed that girls were twice as likely to show signs of depression because of greater social media use.
How to break your addiction to your phone
- Try ‘phone stacking’ in a meeting or at a family meal. Everyone puts their device in the middle of the table and the first to reach for theirs has to do a forfeit, such as to make tea for everyone, buy the next round or wash up.
- Keep tech out of the bedroom: light from screens stops production of the hormone melatonin, which is vital for getting to sleep, so leave them to charge in a different room when you go to bed.
- Keep your phone out of sight and reach when you’re driving. Even hands-free phone systems slow reaction times as people don’t concentrate on the road.
- Don’t eat at your desk. Go outside at lunchtime instead. Not only does it get you away from your screen, it stops you from sitting down too long – also very bad for you.
- Go on a digital detox holiday. Take a break from social media, work emails and texts.