Parents should limit the amount of time children spend watching television or playing computer games, says psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman. Parents who overuse smartphones or other devices in the presence of their children may be unknowingly engaging in a "form of benign neglect", he warns.
British children between the ages of 11 and 15 spend 55 per cent of their waking lives, approximately seven and a half hours a day, engaging with screen media, according to research carried out by the British Market Research Bureaux. That represents an increase of 40 per cent from just a decade ago.
Unchecked screen time poses a medical threat, says Sigman, who suggests television and computer usage should have a daily cap, much like salt, alcohol and other toxins.
The current generation of adolescents is veering dangerously close to screen time dependency, if not outright addiction, he will tell the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health's annual conference on the 22nd of May. That kind of behaviour encourages sedentary lifestyles, which research has linked to diabetes and heart disease.
"Technology should be a tool and not a burden or a health risk," Sigman says.