TV Addict Children Could Suffer Same Symptoms As Alcoholics, New Report Says

It might seem like the easiest thing to do - after a long day at work, plonking the tots in front of Peppa Pig while you ease your aching feet and grab a well-deserved bite to eat.

But a new report suggests that this culture of "technology babysitters" could cause worrisome longterm damage in our youngsters, both physically and psychologically.

Television linked to obesity and depression [Broker/REX]
Television linked to obesity and depression [Broker/REX]

In a document titled 'The State of Our Children', drawn up for the charity 4Children by former children's minister MP Tim Loughton, research shows that the effects of sitting in front of a screen are actually far more extensive than we had previously assumed.

Couch Culture

Children between the ages of 12 to 15 years-old spend, on average, a total of six hours a day in front of either a television or a laptop.

And, according to the study, half as many children are being treated on the NHS for injuries relating to tree-climbing as there were ten years ago.

[Design Pics Inc/REX]
[Design Pics Inc/REX]

While it might seem odd to yearn for tree-injury days, the report shows that the damage of longterm couch-culture is actually far worse than the odd wrist-fracture sustained falling from a high-bough.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, whose research populates the report, suggests that sitting in front of screens for hours on end is not only linked to such conditions as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, inattentiveness and sleep disorders, but this sort of behaviour can also lead to similar symptoms to the ones experienced by alcohol and cocaine addicts, such as withrawal, irritableness and worse.

It has been suggested that our modern hyper-awareness of "health and safety" is responsible for some of this.

Our reluctance to let our children engage in "dangerous" rough and tumble activities, has led us to favour a sedentary lifestyle of screen watching and computer game-playing.

Unfortunately, though, while the risks of sitting in front of the television might be less obvious, these activities are not any less "dangerous" in the longer term.

Silent Killers

Medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, are not the only negative side effects linked to prolongued television and computer use.

We have long known that the brain responds very differently to "active" versus "passive" activity.

For example, reading, which is an "active" pursuit, engages the brain and kickstarts thought processes and imagination.

It is therefore instrumental in training and conditioning a child's brain to be creative, to make decisions, to trouble shoot and to think outside of the box - all of which will come in handy throughout the rest of their lives and careers.

On the contrary, watching television is a "passive" activity - it allows the brain to all but switch off.

Computer gaming encourages repetitive strain injury [Photofusion/REX]
Computer gaming encourages repetitive strain injury [Photofusion/REX]

The implications of this are considerable and could determine the shaping of personality and IQ.

Unforseen Consequences

In recent years, the growing popularity of social networking have exacerbated the negative implications of spending hours on the computer.

For example, sitting on Facebook or Instagram has encouraged youngsters to notice an increase in the pressures to "fit in", to look a certain way and to own certain things.

Selfie culture has made teens more self conscious [Michelle Keegan/Twitter]
Selfie culture has made teens more self conscious [Michelle Keegan/Twitter]

These pressures, it has been reported, weigh heavy enough to influence the onset of depression and in even worse cases, self-harm.

On top of this, it is worth mentioning the much-debated earlier sexualisation of the UK's children.

Watching films of inappropriate ratings, or discovering unfiltered Google search results and even just seeing others' posts on Facebook have all contributed to this.

['Thinspiration' Backlash: Appropriate Reaction Or Political Correctness Gone Awry?]

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What do you think? Are technology babysitters the easy way out? Let us know in the comments!