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Tuesday 25th June 2019

Parents who constantly use mobiles guilty of 'neglect'

22nd May 2012

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman warned a conference in Glasgow that parents who use mobiles, laptops and other devices could be at risk of the "benign neglect" of their children.


The biologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference that children born today will have spent "the equivalent" of a year looking at small screens by the age of seven.

Dr Sigman told the conference: "'Passive parenting' in the face of the new media environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their own households."

In his presentation, Dr Sigman referenced research which has connected heart disease and diabetes with long hours of screen use.

He explained that ten-year-old children were often able to look at "five different screens" in their own homes and could watch more than one at once.

He said parents who spent long amounts of time in front of mobile devices or laptops could be training their children to do the same thing.

"Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk. Whether children or adults are formally 'addicted' to screen technology or not, many of them overuse technology and have developed an unhealthy dependency on it," he said.

"While there are obviously a variety of different factors which may contribute to the development of a dependency...the age, frequency, amount of exposure along with the ease of access and the effects of role modelling and social learning, all strongly increase the risk."

He added: "All of these contribute to a total daily exposure to, or ‘consumption of', an activity. And all are prerequisite factors that contribute to the risk of dependent overuse of technology." 


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