Several years ago, the U.S. paediatricians’ association released recommendations that children under 2 years old should not watch any television. Now a British study reported in the Telegraph recommends that children under three be banned from the box because of negative health effects later in life. Dr Aric Sigman also wrote an article in the Daily Mail called ‘How TV is (quite literally) killing us. He was also recently interviewed on ABC Brisbane.

Among other things, Dr Sigman writes:

I learned that viewing even moderate amounts of television:
• May damage brain cell development and function.
• Is the only adult pastime from the ages of 20 to 60 positively linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
• Is a direct cause of obesity — a bigger factor even than eating junk food or taking too little exercise.
• Significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
• May biologically trigger premature puberty.
• Leads to a significantly elevated risk of sleep problems in adulthood, causing hormone changes which in turn increase body fat production and appetite, damages the immune system and may lead to a greater vulnerability to cancer.
• Is a major independent cause of clinical depression (of which Britain has the highest rate in Europe).

These are not wild suppositions: they are based on hard, clinical evidence that has lain buried in academic journals.

For example, scientists at the University of Washington studied 2,500 children and found a strong link between early television exposure and attention problems by age seven which was ‘consistent with a diagnosis of ADHD’.

For every hour of television a child watches a day, they noted a nine per cent increase in attentional damage.

Equally shocking was the report in the medical journal Pediatrics which studied the metabolic rates of 31 children while undertaking a variety of activities and found that when they watched TV, the children burned the equivalent of 211 calories fewer per day than if they did absolutely nothing.

If the research is accurate, and television is harmful to your child, would you/could you stop your child under 3 from watching tv and severely limiting it for your older children?