Hundreds of medical students have visited pupils at an Aberdeen primary school to speak about the possible health risks of too much screen time.
Aberdeen University sent its third year medical students to Abbotswell Primary School in Kincorth to open up discussion about how spending too much time in front of television, computer and tablet screens may have a poor impact on your health.
Organised by Dr John McKeown, head of general practice and community medical education at Aberdeen University, the day saw him lead a discussion about how to stay healthy.
The medical students also got the chance to learn more about how to communicate health messages to children and took part in the school’s daily mile – which involves the youngsters doing a 15-minute run or jog.
Experts say that while media used on smartphones, video games and TV can have some benefits to children’s development, there are concerns excessive screen time could be damaging for health –for example impacting on sleep – although the effects may not be understood for many years to come.
Speaking to one of the classes, Dr McKeown encouraged young people to find other ways to spend their time, away from technology and gadgets.
He said: “Have you noticed that using screens close to bedtime might mean that you’re not getting enough sleep?
“And when you have talked about happiness, you spoke about being with your friends and your family – not being on screens.
“I want you to imagine that gadgets had not been invented – there were no tablets or X-Boxes or PS4s or Kindles. What would you do in a day where you didn’t have electricity or a gadget?”
Dr McKeown also spoke about the importance of the project – both for the children and medical students.
He said: “We have been teaching medical students at Aberdeen University for three years to a point where they can promote healthy living to children.
“The research behind how screen time can negatively affect sleep and social health has been developing for some time now.
“It also gives us the chance to present these students as role models to young children to encourage them to have an ambition to become doctors as well.”
Primary two teacher Kim Dezall added: “It is brilliant to have the university students here.
“Having visitors in can make the children engage more and they become so interested in learning about what the students are telling them.”
Students Erin Sanderson and Amirah Bouzgarrou, both 20, said the experience was rewarding for them as well.
Erin said: “To have the chance to interact with kids has been really helpful and interesting.”
Amirah added: “We know that kids are taught about eating healthily and exercise but there isn’t really a focus on screen time and getting enough sleep. So that’s a message we’re looking to get across.”