OneNews 10 February 2015
A family values lobby group is asking the Government to introduce guidelines for limiting screen time for children.
Family First says a recent report shows children are risking their health by spending too much time glued to the TV screen or other devices.
The organisation wants the Ministry of Health to consider screen time as a personal health issue and to formally include it in the health education curriculum.
Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills disagrees, telling TV ONE’s Breakfast today the Government doesn’t want to interfere in New Zealanders’ lives by telling them how much television they should watch.
He says it is up to parents to limit the times their children watch TV or play video games.
Despite US research showing children spend too much time texting, playing video games and watching TV, Dr Wills says screen time can been beneficial to children.
“After two [years of age] there’s plenty of evidence screen time can do good,” he said.
However, Dr Aric Sigman, who wrote the report – We Need to Talk – Screen time in NZ, Media Use – says people are unaware of the medical and developmental risks of too much screen time.
“The ages at which children start viewing screens and the number of hours watched per day is increasingly linked to negative physiological changes, medical conditions and development outcomes including significant sleep disturbances, attention problems and impulsiveness,” he says.
Dr Sigman says children are susceptible to developing a long-term problematic dependency to technology.