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French experts recommend cutting screen time for children under 3 and social media for teens

The experts said social media can be a “risk factor” for depression and anxiety.
The experts said social media can be a “risk factor” for depression and anxiety. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Pascale Davies
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A team of experts commissioned by the French president warned against screen and social media use for children.

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Children under three years old should not have any screen time and up to age six it should be “strongly limited,” according to an expert panel commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The panel also said on Tuesday that children under the age of 11 should not be allowed a mobile phone and anyone under 13 should not own a phone with internet access.

Meanwhile, social media use should be forbidden for anyone under 15 and those above that age should only have access to ethical platforms such as Bluesky.

The experts said social media can be a “risk factor” for depression and anxiety, and they found children have an "alarming" level of exposure to pornographic and violent content.

The report also said there is "a very clear consensus on the negative effects - both indirect and direct - of screens". 

It added that time spent on screens has "consequences for children's health, development, future, as well as the future of our society and civilisation".

The report also criticised “predatory practices” by tech companies such as “infinite scrolling or automatic video launch".

The French report goes further than the World Health Organization’s recommendations, which currently state that screen time is not recommended until the age of two and should be no more than one hour for those aged two and above.

Last week, the French President told the Sorbonne university that he was in favour of an online minimum age of 15.

It comes after members of Macron's Renaissance party tabled a bill last year that would create more training on screen time for people who work with children and more regulation on the use of screens in nursery and primary schools.

There is currently no timeline for new legislation, and it is not clear if the experts’ recommendations will be followed.

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