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TV is a Health Hazard For Children Age Three and Below

Update Date: Oct 09, 2012 08:35 AM EDT

The next time you see your child glued to the television, you may want to switch that idiot box off. A new study suggests that parents need to be much more alert and conscious about cutting down the number of hours they allow their children to watch TV.

It is a tendency in a lot of parents to keep their children busy watching TV, so that the kids do not disturb them while they finish their work. However, this might not be healthy habit cultivation after all. According to a leading psychologist, children below three should be banned from watching TV altogether.

According to Dr Aric Sigman, limiting the number of hours youngsters spend watching TV could significantly improve their health, development and well-being. Apparently, an average seven year old child would have spent a year watching TV, just by that age, Mail Online reports.

Children are increasingly using games consoles, tablet computers, televisions, smart phones and laptops and according to the report, an average child is exposed to five different kinds of screens in the household. Sitting inactive for hours together in a day has been linked to problems of obesity and risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes in children.

Dr Sigman says that such extensive use of these gadgets could also lead to attention problems and other psychological difficulties in children.

"Reducing total daily screen time for children, and delaying the age at which they start, could provide significant advantages for their health and wellbeing," he writes in the influential medical journey Archives of Disease in Childhood.

"While many questions remain regarding the precise nature of the association between screen time and adverse outcomes, the advice from a growing number of both researchers and other medical associations and government health departments elsewhere is becoming unequivocal: reduce screen time."

Spending a lot of time in front of the screen could also affect the way a child connects himself socially, he added.

Dr. Sigman,  who is also a child health expert says that parents should try as much as possible to delay the age at which children start using screen. The minimum being- three years old.

Children aged between three and seven should be limited to half-an-hour to an hour of screen time each day and those between 7 and 12 years old should be allowed just one hour in front of the screens.

Children between 12 and 15 years should be allowed a maximum of 1 and a half hours and those aged 16 and above should be allowed 2 hours in front of the screens, he recommends.

"As health risks are reported to occur beyond exposure of two hours of screen time per day, although the average child is exposed to three times this amount, a robust initiative to encourage a reduction in daily recreational screen time could lead to significant improvements in child health and development. Britain and European medical establishments should consider screen time as a separate entity from sedentary behavior, and offer an advisory on the average number of hours per day young children, in particular, are viewing screen media, and the age at which they start," he concluded.

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