The amount of time children spend in front of screens should be curbed to stave off development and health problems according to a leading psychologist.

Dr Aric Sigman says children of all ages are watching more screen media than ever with the average 10-year-old having access to five different screens at home.

"In addition to the main family television, for example, many very young children have their own bedroom TV along with portable hand-held computer game consoles, smartphone, family computer and a laptop," Dr Sigman suggested.

"Children routinely engage in two or more forms of screen viewing at the same time, such as TV and laptop."

This amount of exposure to electronic devises could lead to some children becoming "addicting and depressed" as a result according to the research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

In addition to the widely reported impact of long sedentary periods, Dr Sigman claims that prolonged screen time can lead to reductions in attention span because of its effects on the brain chemical dopamine.

"Perhaps because screen time is not a dangerous substance or a visibly risky activity, it has eluded the scrutiny that other health issues attract," he added.

"Many questions remain about the precise nature of the association between screen time and adverse outcomes, but the advice from a growing number of both researchers and medical associations and government departments elsewhere is becoming unequivocal - reduce screen time."

Visit http://adj.bmj.com to read the report in full

Posted 10/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com