As Psychologists warn over TV screen time for children, how much TV do you let your children watch?

Psychologists have warned that children are being “neglected” in favour of sitting them in front of the television.  They added that parents need to regain control and do more to stop the amount of time their children spend sitting in front of the television.

As television is becoming more and more accessible by devices such as the iTouch and iPad, and it is becoming more and more common for children to have televisions in their rooms or more than one or two televisions in their houses, it’s inevitable that more and more of them will watch TV as something to do.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health London psychologist Dr Aric Sigman said that “screen time” needed to have a daily limit in the same way that we should try to limit our salt or alcohol daily intake.

He argued that screen time is at an all time high with children having access to an average of 5 screens in their home.

He also raised concerns over the effects of TV on children’s brains as they grow and develop.  Brain scans have been known to show differences between the brains of gamers and non-gamers however it is now known whether gaming changes the brain or if people with certain brain structures are driven to play games.

Dr Sigman said, “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 proposing that children up to the age of three years old should have little or no screen time.  From three to seven, a maximum of an hour and a half and a maximum of two hours up to the age of 18.

The shadow public health minister, Diane Abbott, also called for parents to cut the amount of time families spend in front of the television or playing on a computer in favour of more time doing family activities or spending time outdoors. 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 added, “Physical activity offers huge benefits – all children should be encouraged to be active.”

I have often wondered of the effects that 3D television will have on children’s eyes long term as well as the screen time on iTouches.  Children around me all seem to have iTouches now and if not that, or as well as, a Blackberry.  What with 3D televisions making the move into our homes, it’s undoubtedly more accessible for children to watch their favourite 3D films at their own leisure and knowing some children, that means over and over again.  I also remember campaigning for a television in my room which I was not able to get until I was well into my teens and while, admittedly, I do myself spend a lot of time in front of the screen, whether it be a television, a computer or a tablet device, my brain and eyes are not developing at the rate and need of a child’s.

If you have children, what are your thoughts and how much TV do you let your child watch?  Even if you don’t have children, what are your thoughts?  As always, get involved in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

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