Virtually addicted: why general practice must now confront screen dependency


Discretionary screen time (ST) is now the main waking activity of children: a lifestyle factor as relevant to health as nutrition and physical activity. High ST is increasingly considered an independent risk factor, often exhibiting a dose–response relationship with cardiometabolic disease, unfavourable child development outcomes, and adult morbidity and mortality, ultimately placing greater pressure on primary care services.

The US Department of Health has issued ‘recommended limits for screen time’ as one of its national ‘health improvement priorities’ and a key ‘disease prevention objective’. Public Health England recently reported their concern over:

‘Increased screen time … evidence suggests a “dose-response” relationship, where each additional hour of viewing increases the likelihood of experiencing socio-emotional problems’.

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