'Mobile addicted parents guilty of child neglect'

'Mobile addicted parents guilty of child neglect'

 Parents who constantly fiddle with mobile phones and iPads in front of their kids are actually driving them to a lifelong dependency on screens, a leading psychologist has warned.

This addiction to computers, mobile phones and television has striking similarities to alcoholism, and parents who have this habit are guilty of "benign neglect" towards their children, said Dr Aric Sigman, a biologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

According to Sigman, children born today will have spent about an entire year of their lives watching some form of small screen by the time they turn seven.

The effect could be long-term changes to children's brain circuitry similar to those in other forms of dependency and it is time parents should "regain control" of their households, he told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow.

"Passive parenting in the face of the new environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their households," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

Last month a Europe-wide report called for nurseries to ban televisions and advised parents to resist pleas to let children have them in their bedrooms, in a bid to fight obesity among young people.

Sigman drew on research which suggests an association between high levels of screen use and both type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Comparing the screen dependency with alcoholism, he said that on-screen novelty and stimulation causes the release of dopamine, a chemical which plays a key role in the brain's reward system and may lead to the formation of addictions.

Boys whose parents watch more than four hours a day of television are more than 10 times more likely to develop the same habit as those whose parents do not, he said.
He also singled out parents who maintain high levels of "eye-to-screen contact" at home, warning that they are likely to instill similar behaviour in their children.

"Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk," he added.

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