It is almost a perennial parental caveat to children, too much TV, video games and computers is just not good for you. Of course, with the usual adolescent disdain, such advice is usually brushed off and chances are you’d sneak in an extra hour or two just to irritate them. But according to psychologists, there apparently is truth to this age-old warning and not nipping it in time could possibly be detrimental.
According to psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman, parents need to regulate their children’s TV viewing hours, likening its control to that of one’s daily intake of salt or alcohol. Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Sigman said, "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,” adding, “It is always the principle of caution in children, except for screen time."
Dr. Sigman, who will expand upon this later at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's annual conference in Glasgow, said that the “screen time” or the amount of time spent in front of a screen, be it that of a television, a smartphone or a computer monitor was at an all-time high, linking this behavior to such diseases as type 2 diabetes and heart diseases that can happen as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. He further said that parents needed to “regain control” as they were risking a form of “benign neglect.” He also highlighted the possible effects of gaming on the brain and the effects it could have on brain circuitry, saying, "There are concerns that it alters the reward circuitry in the brain," suggesting that possible “dependence” could result.
Dr. Sigman also suggested that parents need to reassess the amount of "screen time" their children get nowadays, saying that for children up to the age of three there should be little to no screen time, while for children up to the age of seven it should not be more than an hour and a half. For 18-year-olds, Dr. Sigman suggested no more than two hours of "screen time" a day.
The stress here is that children need to be more active when young, staving off diseases that result from sedentary lifestyles and the more screen time they get, the less likely they are to pursue active lifestyles.
A similar concern was voiced by United Kingdom’s shadow public health minister Diane Abbott, who 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."