Television 'harms' children's health
Parents need to limit how much television their children watch, report warns
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Monday, 19, Feb 2007 11:20
Watching television as a child increases the risk of developing numerous health problems, a report has warned today.
A review of 35 scientific studies revealed that there are a total of 15 problems which could result from excessive screen watching, including obesity, attention disorders, autism and Alzheimer's disease.
According to the report, published in the journal Biologist, the average six-year-old has watched more than one year's worth of television and more than half of three-year-olds have a television set in their bedroom.
Writing in the journal Biologist, report author Dr Aric Sigman argues: "A growing body of empirical evidence is indicating that watching television causes physiological changes, and not for the better.
"Most of these effects occur irrespective of the type of programme people watch - whether it is sex and violence or the Teletubbies. It is the medium, not the message."
Dr Sigman, a member of the Institute of Biology and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, claims that the studies he reviewed provide evidence that parents need to prevent young children from watching excessive amounts of television; very young children should not watch any television and those over the age of three should watch a reduced amount, he believes.
Policy makers, Dr Sigman concludes, also have a responsibility to consider the questions raised by the studies "urgently".
"By ignoring their findings we may ultimately be responsible for the greatest health scandal of our time," he said.