THE Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has produced guidance for parents on how long children should spend on their laptops and phones, which says that screen time is not intrinsically detrimental or “toxic’’. Commenting on the report, experts advise parents to use a common-sense approach, rather than banning devices or strictly time-limiting use of them. They say parents should be mindful of screen-time not detracting from family activities, sleep or exercise, and that children – as is often recommended for adults – should come off devices at least an hour before bedtime.

If I had to rank my parenting fears, of which I have many, navigating the perils and benefits of technology and my daughter’s access to it would be near the top.

In my first few years as a new mother, I was militant in a few of my beliefs: only for them to quickly unravel as they collided with the practical realities and limitations of child-rearing.

I was certain I would exclusively breast-feed for the first six months, I would wean my daughter on organic, home-made purees and I wouldn’t give her chocolate before she was five (ha!).

I was also adamant that I wouldn’t give her early access to technology or social media, having read extensively about the dangers that screen-time at such a young age can pose.

Interestingly, this was the only one of my 10 commandments of smug parenting that I found easy to stick to. I never offered her my phone or tablet to play games on and without knowing what she was missing out on, she never asked.

It wasn’t until she spent a weekend with my mum and arrived home having learned how to read and spell various words, that I began to rethink my dogma.

My mum had introduced her to the CBeebies app, and a phonics game which infuriatingly – and wonderfully – taught her in a few days what my many hours of stories and flash cards could not.

Where my method of attempting to teach her to read – the same way my mum taught me – with physical books and cuddled-in reading sometimes made her feel frustrated and put under pressure, the app allowed her to quickly pick up new sounds and letter recognition.

I still had concerns. Reading is one life’s purest joys and I remember as a child, not much older than my daughter is now, escaping in the adventure and magic of solo reading. I wanted that experience for her – but worried she would become dependent on the technology that was helping speed up that process.

My mum, who has raised six children and is singularly responsible for my love of reading, was more sanguine. She reassured me that giving my daughter access to the technology that wasn’t around when I was a child wouldn’t turn her into a tech addict.

Moreover, digital skills are essential in today’s job market, not an added extra. So, I took the plunge and I bought her a tablet of her own. I downloaded the same app she had used with my mum and waited nervously for the inevitable meltdown over how much time she could spend on it.

It never arrived. She enjoys doing her reading games but is relaxed when I say it is time to stop and do something else. She also takes great pleasure in asking Alexa the questions I don’t know the answer to such as: “How do you say umbrella in Japanese?”, “Does Scotland have fossils?’’ and “Does the First Minister love Paw Patrol?’’ (Alexa couldn’t help with that one, either.)

The real battle lies ahead. As she gets older and her friends start to get phones and social media accounts, I know that I’ll feel the pressure to open that world up to her too. That worries me so much more than a spelling app.

We know the impact that social media can have on the mental health of young people, especially young women. I take reassurance from the progress that has been made on awareness of internet safety and the permanence of information about yourself you put online.

When she eventually joins the big bad world of social media (watch out, Twitter) her generation will likely be far more cautious and tech-smart than many of us were in our early days of using these exciting new platforms.

Technology and social media are also a great leveller. Access to information is no longer the preserve of the moneyed classes with houses full of groaning bookshelves. All children can learn additional skills such as languages and musical instruments without the need for an expensive tutor, through free-to-use and instantly available tutorials online.

In Scotland, we have seen working-class young people carve out places for themselves in politics and journalism through their savvy engagement of social media. The spaces which are so often more about “who you know” than

“what you”’ are now much more accessible.

And anyway, parents who are unsure about the best way to manage their children’s access to screens and technological dependence should try not to worry. After all, there’s an abundance of helpful information online …