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Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews
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  • Published on:
    Reviewing the search strategy for this review of reviews.

    responding to Stiglic and Viner BMJ Open Access Vol 9 (1)

    The stated aim of this paper was to “systematically examine the evidence on the effects of time spent using screens on health and well-being among CYP”. In my view this aim was not achieved. Therefore it is troubling that the conclusions and guidance for parents said to be based on this review should have gained worldwide dissemination, with the RCPCH stamp on them.

    I am a long-time advocate for healthy use of screens by children, and constantly review the research in this field, using my 20 years’ experience as a health services librarian and Medline searcher. I consider the search strategy used for this review to be inadequate to achieve the aim. And this is a view shared by other health librarians who’ve looked at it.

    The authors state that
    We used the search terms in Medline as follows: ‘(child OR teenager OR adolescent OR youth) AND (screen time OR television OR computer OR sedentary behaviour OR sedentary activity) AND health’, with publication type limited to ‘systematic review, with or without meta-analysis’ ….

    Medline indexers assign search terms as precisely as possible*. Was this search exactly as stated? If so:
    • “health” is too broad and misses more specific health-related issues
    • “Child” will miss articles that are about only “child, preschool” or “infant”
    • “television OR sedentary behaviour” are odd bedfellows, and this bracket will...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.