Childhood 'screen time': Warning over TV and computers
Published: 22nd May 2012 00:47:39
Parents need to do more to stop children spending too much time watching television or playing computer games, according to a psychologist.
Dr Aric Sigman said "screen time" needed to have a daily limit in a similar vein to salt or alcohol intake.
He called for parents to "regain control" or they were risking a "form of benign neglect".
He will speak at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's annual conference in Glasgow later.
Dr Sigman will argue that the amount of time spent in front of screens is at an all-time high - with children having access to an average of five screens in the home and often using more than one at once, such as a smartphone and the television.
This is linked to a sedentary lifestyle, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, he will say.
He will also raise concerns that it might be changing children's brains as they develop.
It is always the principle of caution in children, except for screen time”
Brain scans have shown differences between the brains of gamers and non-gamers. However, it is not known if playing games change the brain or if people with certain brain structures are driven to play games.
Dr Sigman told the BBC that "there are concerns that it alters the reward circuitry in the brain" which may lead to "dependence".
"Whether children or adults are formally 'addicted' to screen technology or not, many of them overuse technology and have developed an unhealthy dependency on it."
He continued: "It is always the principle of caution in children, except for screen time."
He is arguing that children up to the age of three should have little or no screen time. Then a maximum of an hour-and-a-half up to the age of seven, and a maximum of two hours up to the age of 18.
The shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, has also called for parents to cut the amount of time families spend in front of the television or playing on a computer.
She said: "By 2025, nearly half of men and over a third of women will be obese, so we've got to start helping and empowering parents to do the right thing."
The Department of Health said: "Physical activity offers huge benefits - all children should be encouraged to be active."
It said under-fives should spend as little time sitting still as possible.
Meanwhile, doctors at the conference have updated the way they check that children are growing properly.
New growth charts, which are used by doctors and school nurses to compare a child's height, weight and age, have been developed to make it easier to spot obese children and those not going through puberty properly.
Dr Charlotte Wright, who was instrumental in the design, said the new charts were "simpler to use" and would give a "more accurate picture" of the health of children.
At 00:46:27 in WorldGifts and payments to US doctors from drug firms are seen by some as encouraging unnecessary prescriptions. Do such transfers make any difference and will President Obama's healthcare reform help, by forcing companies to disclose them?
At 00:31:46 in ScotlandDid business expert Lord Digby Jones bite off more than he could chew when he tried to help out a Hawick textile factory?
At 00:29:23 in ScotlandA new exhibition explores the impact of of World War One on thousands of Scots, both in service and back home.
At 00:25:52 in ScotlandThe recent decline in shopper numbers in Scotland has slowed significantly, according to figures released by retailers.
At 00:22:14 in ScotlandThe funeral of a 12-year-old girl who died after a wall fell on her at an Edinburgh school is due to be held later.
At 00:20:50 in ScotlandHe's the Scot credited with helping to establish America's national parks. Now, more than a century later, John Muir is to be honoured at the opening of a long distance path which bears his name.
At 00:20:30 in WorldThe world's largest democratic event, with over 800 million eligible voters, is under way.
At 00:17:43 in ScotlandScotland's economic performance has returned to pre-recession levels, according to a report.
At 00:02:42 in BusinessThe world is addicted to hydrocarbons, and it's easy to see why - cheap, plentiful and easy to mine, they represent an abundant energy source to fuel industrial development the world over.
At 00:02:32 in BusinessThe idea struck Rajiv Singh during a business trip to Germany, when a man arrived with a document from an office on the other side of town.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Childhood 'screen time': Warning over TV and computers [Online] (Updated 22nd May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430015/Childhood-screen-time-Warning-over-TV-and-computers [Accessed 17th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Scotland's economic performance has returned to pre-recession levels, according to a report.
Men prefer to watch film adaptations of books than read the original novel, according to a new study, which found the opposite is true for women.
Did business expert Lord Digby Jones bite off more than he could chew when he tried to help out a Hawick textile factory?
The ebb and flow of men's beard fashions may be guided by Darwinian selection, according to a new study.
The remains of 19th Century country house that was gutted by a blaze more than 30 years ago has been hit by fire again.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com