UK & World News
Video Games And TV 'Make Children Depressed'
Children who spend too much time watching television or playing computer games could be at a higher risk of anxiety and depression, a major report has claimed.
A link between time spent in front of screens and lower levels of wellbeing amongst children is a major cause for concern, according to a study by Public Health England.
Higher levels of TV viewing are contributing to lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.
The briefing paper is released as a new Change4Life campaign encourages families to use the back to school period to adopt healthier behaviours - one of which is reducing children's screen time.
Children who spend more time on computers and playing video games tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression, said Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England's Director of Health and Wellbeing.
"There are many complex factors that affect a child's wellbeing such as the wider environment they live in and their social, financial and family circumstances, but there are also some very simple things we can all do every day with our children to help improve their health and wellbeing.
"Our goal is to encourage families across England to sign up to Change4Life to make a healthy change to their new term-time routines, which will hopefully then become part of their everyday lives."
The study reveals that children doing more physical activity are more likely to concentrate better in school, enjoy good relationships with classmates, and display lower levels of worry, anxiety and depression.
But some parents were sceptical about the report findings.
Jemma Murphy, a mother of two from Handforth, Cheshire, said she allows her children, Casper, aged four and Summer, three, to watch some television whilst encouraging other activities in the home and outside.
"My children don't watch television hour after hour but they do watch it sometimes because it's often the only time I can get things done around the house," she told Sky News.
"But we also have craft days and go to the park or for walks to get them out of the house. It's a balance."
Lil Caprani, Director of Communications, Policy and Campaigns, The Children's Society said: "When we asked children about their wellbeing as part of our Good Childhood Report, we found a strong association with being active and being happy.
"Things like cycling, swimming or playing football all had a clear relationship, but simple things like just going for walks were associated with higher wellbeing."