Anyone who reads SelwoodÂ blog regularly will know that we are strong supporters of outdoor play and due to its huge health benefits for children we are not the only ones. Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman warns parents to â€˜regain controlâ€™ of their households.
The growing tendency for children to spend hours sat in front of a screen is becoming increasingly worrying. What begins in early years can develop into a lifelong habit. The average time British adolescents spend staring at a screen has risen to 6.1 hours a day and rising. Children aged 10-11 now have access to an average five screens in their home.
Perhaps most shocking of all, by the age of seven a child born today will have spent a whole year of 24 hour days watching screen media.
Dr Sigman claims that even average levels of daily screen time are closely linked to a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
He added that extensive computer game playing amongst children can lead to changes in the brainâ€™s circuitry. This change resembles the effects caused by substance abuse. Children, and of course adults, can become addicted to computer games and other technologies limiting the time they spend socialising and being active.
“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.
“Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk,” he said.
Dr Sigman explains that rules and limitations should be set and enforced on screen time for children. He also suggested that the age children are first exposed to the small screen should be at least three years old. Another comment he makes is about the use of smartphones, ipads, laptops by parents. Parents who use these devices a lot and in front of their children should be more aware of the message they are sending out.
President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Professor Terence Stephenson, said: “Children are becoming increasingly younger when they get their first mobile phone, learn how to use computers and get their hands on video games. Screens in some shape or form are now a part of everyday life.
“We wouldn’t deny children the right to have fun but, as with anything, it’s important to get the balance right – with exercise playing a major part in keeping children fit and healthy.”
Professor Stephenson warns against children leading a sedentary lifestyle. A major concern in this technology led world.