Kids should avoid TV, computers

Doctors and health officials have warned parents not to stick children under three years old in front of the telly or let them play with a computer.

Computers and TVs have been used as defacto nannies for years, but medical experts are worried that this could really stuff up their development.

According to the Guardian, doctors and government health officials are thinking of setting limits, as they do for alcohol, on the amount of time children spend watching screens. It is not clear how they intend to police this.

But the quacks think that under-threes shouldn’t see a computer screen or telly.

The view is based on the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood which says children’s obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm.

The review was written by psychologist Aric Sigman. On average, he says, a British teenager spends six hours a day looking at screens at home, not including any time at school. In North America, it is nearer eight hours.

Sigman said that negative effects on health kick in after about two hours of sitting still, with increased long-term risks of obesity and heart problems.

But the critical time for brain growth is the first three years of life. This is a time when babies and small children need to interact with their parents. If they interact with a screen instead of a mortal they turn into self obsessed axe murders who will mindlessly queue for products with ever bigger screens.

Actually, we made that up. In fact it seems to suggest screen time influences “cognitive development” and in teens makes them lardy.

The suggestion that kids under the age of 18 should not sit in front of a screen for more than two hours a day will go down like a lead balloon.

But there is a ground swell of expert opinion that says that kids should limit their screen use. The American Academy of Pediatrics says “media – both foreground and background – have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than two”. The Canadian Paediatric Society says no child should be allowed to have a television, computer or video game gear in his or her bedroom.

The view is not universal. Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University pointed out that Aric Sigman does not appear to have any academic or clinical position, or to have done any original research on this topic.

The impact of screen time on brain development and empathy seem speculative and his arguments could equally well be used to conclude that children should not read books.