Oh boy. This is shocking. Not surprising. Shocking. And if you have children… you are going to want to drop everything you are doing… and… read this right now.

Here’s what this is all about: In February 2007, two independent studies reported on research showing that Children watching television are at higher risk of several serious health problems. And spending time in front of the computer screen can also be detrimental.

And here’s something very interesting: If you think your kids are immune because you monitor what they watch and they only watch “educational” television… you might want to read this quote from Dr. Aric Sigman, “It is the number of hours and the age which they start which produces the biological effects. It is because of the medium, not the message, that these effects are occurring,”

In other words…

It’s NOT What Kids Are Watching On Television… It’s The Television Itself That Is The Problem!

Who is Dr. Aric Sigman? Dr Sigman is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and author of “Remotely Controlled: How Television Is Damaging Our Lives.” In his report, he analysed 35 different scientific studies carried out into television and its effect on the viewer. He has identified 15 negative effects he claims can be blamed on watching television.

Some of the most alarming discoveries are the links he claims to have found between long hours of television viewing and cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s.

According to the February 19th 2007 edition of The Scotsman (Scotland’s National Newspaper), “The effects on children watching TV have been well publicised in Britain. Fears of a time bomb of obesity have sparked a wave of ministerial initiatives to promote sport and tackle the couch-potato lifestyle.

However, today’s report suggests the consequences of television are far more serious. They range from myopia and attention deficit disorder to diabetes, autism, Alzheimer’s and a generation whose brains are being numbed by on-screen imagery.”

Early Puberty?

Dr. Sigman’s work not only associates television watching with obesity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, attention span and the body cells’ ability to heal wounds… it claims a significant body of research now leads him to believe it is a major factor in reducing levels of the hormone – melatonin.

Why is this important?

This is important because melatonin is the hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock and also helps determine the onset and progression of puberty.

Since melatonin is produced at night and makes you feel “sleepy,” it is believed the bright screen may decrease production. This may lead to disturbances in sleep… which can be linked to many health problems.

And according to Dr. Sigman, suppressing melatonin levels in this fashion may lead to children starting puberty much earlier than nature intended.

What’s more, the study found that children’s resting metabolic rate decreased as the amount of TV they watched soared – meaning that physiological changes compounded the fact that they were not exercising.

No TV Under 3

And according to the US Paper “The Guardian”, “Between the ages of birth to 3, particularly when children are acquiring language, their brains are going through rapid development and are being physically shaped, like a piece of clay, in response to what they are exposed to. It’s called structural neuroplasticity.

“Key stages of development are language acquisition and social skills, and if they’re displaced at this stage, they may be irreplaceable.” Dr Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and member of the Institute of Biology, said exposing children to fast-moving images at a very young age for a sustained time may inhibit their ability to sustain attention.

  And children who were left for long periods with only a screen to interact with, not only had less time to speak to adults, but also failed to develop social skills.”

Dr Sigman believes children under three should not watch TV, and those between 3 and 7 should watch no more than 30 minutes to an hour a day.

And this includes so-called “educational” programming…

“I was told by the head of BBC children’s TV [Richard Deverell] that TV ‘helps children get interested in the outside world’. I believe the world around them gets them interested in the outside world.

“We are told children need electronic entertainment or they get bored. It is not true. Children have an infinite ability to entertain themselves which television seems to erode. What children are exposed to under the age of 7, and particularly under the age of 3, is of paramount importance. It’s really the under 3’s we’re most concerned about and dramatically limiting the amount watched between three and seven.”

Here Are Dr. Sigman’s Recommendations

For Television Watching:

  • Children under 3: no screen exposure
  • Ages 3 to 7: 30 minutes to an hour a day
  • 7 to 12: One hour a day
  • 12 to 15: one and-a-half hours a day
  • 16 and over: 2 hours

According to The Guardian article, a Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said the government had no plans to introduce a recommended “daily allowance” rationing the amount of TV children watch.