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How do you stop your child becoming a screen addict?

16:17 UK time, Friday, 16 July 2010

Barbie dolls, Action men and My Little Ponies were the must-have toys years ago. Today children want the latest in computer gaming. Is your child a screen addict?

Consultant psychiatrist, Dr Alex Yellowlees, warns that youngsters can rapidly become screen addicts. He says parents can rely too heavily on computer games, even using them as unofficial babysitters. He says they are not a fun and harmless pastime anymore.

It is not uncommon for children to spend upwards of six to eight hours daily on their computers playing games. This may cause them to experience the negative effects of gaming.

Is your child experiencing any gaming-related problems? Is your child socially avoidant or anxious? Why is your child spending so much time fixed to the screen?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Don't put the computer in their bedroom!!!
    Become computer literate yourself...go on a course.......check what they do.
    Tell them that they have a strict set time on the computer from an early age........and stick to what you say. Who runs the house you or your kids???

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    There is a two letter word to prevent this.


    If this fails put the computer in a locked room.

  • Comment number 5.

    If parents use their judegement in the main formative years a child will learn to use their own imagination. Don't use the television or DVD to babysit children remember the fun we used to get out of a couple of pans and some pegs. A large box can be used to pretend it is anything and clothes horse can be a tent, a house or any other place they want it to be. Parents should not always be on a computer in the presence of a young child. Parents must take responsibility for the grounding their children get and not depend on nurserys and schools. A child should be able to read, write and solve s simple problem by they go to school

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with Dr Yellowlees, I think some children nowadays are a little too into games and TV, we need to be encouraging outdoor activities. That's not to say of course that they shouldn't be allowed any access to gaming, just that we need some restrictions on how much time they have on them.

    I also agree that too much can't be good for social anxiety, it's better to get them out socialising rather than to do it over an internet connection. Online gaming very rarely helps to tackle social anxiety and certainly can help make it worse.

  • Comment number 7.

    How do you stop your child becoming a screen addict?

    Getting them to anything they don't want to do, isn't this somehow against their human rights?

  • Comment number 8.

    Ummm, lets see, switch it off?

  • Comment number 9.

    Just say 'NO'.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm 26 now and my family got a computer when I passed all my GCSE's (one of which was IT). I set up our internet account and anytime my parents were 'mean' I would lower the age on their account so they couldn't send or recieve email.

    I feel bad about that now . . .

    Control your children. Or they'll run rings around you.
    I'm sorry to be blunt but kids learn new tech either from friends or in school.

  • Comment number 11.

    Take the screens away, of course. Be a PARENT!

  • Comment number 12.

    my 12yo has an xbox 360, a laptop & a smartphone, all of which he enjoys when it's raining, but right now the sun is shining and he is down the stream looking for tadpoles in the pool (no worries, he can swim), his plan for later is football in the park with his mates then off to learn sign-language with his mum.

    as with everything else in life - moderation is the key - a little of what you fancy does you good, too much of anything is almost always harmfull

  • Comment number 13.

    What's up with you lot?

    Easy! Take the screens away from them.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have 4 daughters and a son they will do what i allow them to do simples!
    If i was to allow them to hibernate away playing computer games and not socializing with friends i'm sure that they would. However as a responsible parent we ensure that their time outside school hours are a mix of activities including dance school from an early age, to encourage a healthy amount of physical exercise. Purchase books to encourage reading and limit the amount of children's TV with an equal amount of time to be given to watching natural history programs. At the weekends there are day trips to country parks, which is easy enough living in the midlands as we are surrounded by them and then within an hours drive there is the wonderful country side of wales for them to explore.

    Having said all that we could choose to have a screen bring up our children into agoraphobic socially inept young people and that would not be the child's fault it would be ours as parents we set the standards of acceptable behavior its that simple as a parent if your child is living attached to an entertainment device whatever brand its YOUR FAULT.

  • Comment number 15.

    How many parents really have to have this spelt out? You explain to the child why excessive screen use is bad, and set out reasonable rules. Explain that if they're not followed, you will disable the machine. And if they're not (you must monitor it), you simply disable it.
    Why are we having national debates and hand-wringing about something so simple and obvious?

  • Comment number 16.

    My lads have just turned 18 they've grown up a member of the "playstation" generation and so far so good they havent gone for old ladies with pick axes as certain MPs and paper media would have you beleive after playing grand theft auto 3(yes i as an adult let them play the game but then again i sat with them,told them to watch and listen to the radio in game and amazingly they saw it for what it was a game.

    They havent been scared by modern warfare's now infamous airport level,indeed they've thought it was crass and unneeded in the game and had a go on a forum about activision hyping it up too much so while i as a parent have let them play many games over the years i've always been around to see what they where doing the same is of the internet the PC stays down in the kitchen,it still does.

    Games arent bad,its a fine hobby to be into of course like everything though you have to be on top of things its called parenting,and it can appy to all aspects of child rearing.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've just turned 18, and I'll admit it - I enjoy playing computer games on my computer. The same computer that is in my bedroom and has been for a few years now.

    However, my parents and I share the same view - many games available on the market are no different from playing with dolls. For example, the Sims series is near on identical and, equally, racing games are there instead of similar 'real life' options. I contest the view that playing computer games and playing with toys are on opposite ends of the spectrum, as portrayed in the media

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    i'm 16, i have a computer in my room as well as all current and previous generations of game consoles, i have 250 games. and guess what i'm not a social reject as this article would like to portray us gamers as. I am healthy and have a normal social life, i have many friends, i go out for long walks with them and to conventions with them. i go to many out of school clubs and i spend the majority of time at home doing school work and gaming. All this article is trying to do is start fear mongering amongst parents.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    No problem...

    We instilled in our kids, from the day they were born, that there is life 'beyond the screen' and not surprisingly, they found this to be true!

    And, now that they have all grown up and have families of their own, they too are offering their children the same alternative...

  • Comment number 22.

    Today's parent should simple have their children installed into the Borg collective.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have no doubt government will get involved at some point so that parents are even further absolved of responsibility. I would suggest parents learn where the on/off button is and use it at their discretion. If the kids get stroppy for every minute they throw a strop that's another hour not using it.

    Isn't this called 'parenting?'

  • Comment number 24.

    How do you stop your child becoming a screen addict?

    Easy; you are the child, I am the adult. When you are an adult you can make your own choices, but in the meantime....when I say 'No' I mean it.

  • Comment number 25.

    For most children it's already too late. The screen is so addictive and they're already hooked. In the case of a newborn baby, the parents could possibly move to a remote area, have radio in their home but no TV, and educate the child at home with loads of books but no computer. But it would be much simpler to accept the fact that, sooner or later, the little one will be an addict, just like all his or her friends.

  • Comment number 26.

    Cut the bloody plug off

  • Comment number 27.

    I really like gaming. At times I skip meals, reduce sleep. There are only so many hours in a day.

    If I prohibit my child from playing more than "a reasonable amount of time" does that make me a hypocrite?

    I guess it's easier to prohibit alcohol for your children when you are not an alcoholic. Then again, it might not help in preventing them to become one.

    The real job of a parent is not to police the "reasonable amount", but to teach moderation. This is much harder then policing, this is why you'll see that many comments here are "disable the device" or "take away the screen". Sure teaching moderation may have to resort to some policing, but that is not the solution.

    Solution is moderation. I hope I can learn that before I have to start teaching it to my kids.

  • Comment number 28.

    Try geocaching.

  • Comment number 29.

    Face it. Most of them are probably going to spend their working lives stuck in front of computer screens, might as well let them get attenuated to it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Moderation is the key

  • Comment number 31.

    Very simple keep them busy in physical jobs and outdoor games on regular basis.
    Here parents' attitude matter and it is laziness of parents that take kids near to computers.
    Parents are forgetting their childhood games and feel very proud and updated by giving gifts of computer games to young children.
    It is priority job of vigilant parents to give schedule of quality time activities to their kids and then synchronized their daily routine with them.

  • Comment number 32.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 33.

    If I didn’t know better I'd swear that there's a compsiracy afoot to dummy-down the next generation, make them stupid and pliable – a generation of zombies who don't think but take orders very well.
    They don’t read books, are proud that they don’t read books, cannot answer simple questions like for how many years are Senators elected, and spend most waking ours developing their social networks.
    The last I heard there was a limited employment market for persons adept at computer games, especially war games, except maybe in the military where these adult-children would likely do really well shooting drones at living people.
    I agree with Dr Alex Yellowlees; this games are not harmless. They are no longer part-time. Kids spend more time on screens than studying for examinations or getting excited about real careers. They cannot think in complex sentences; they cannot debate; they cannot engage socially except by texting.
    Gaming-related problems? Your kid may be dextrous on a keyboard, but what about dextrous in mental agility?
    Your child may have 1,000 pals on websites, but what about real, flesh-and-blood good friends? Does your kid need a dose of Paxil just to engage in social situations, or is the kid so nervous we put him on Ritalin?
    A child spends vast amounts of time on screens when s/he is bored, not socialized, and is afraid or even alien to real life.
    Solution: take the screens away until all other more relevant activities have been accomplished - like homework.

  • Comment number 34.

    my parents wouldnt let me sit in front of the tv all day. They made me go out and play in the garden every so often. I didn't like that at the time. But looking back, I think they had the right idea

  • Comment number 35.

    Don't let them near a computer, or take it away from them. If they don't like this, force them to listen to Lawrence Welk's music for a couple hours until they appreciate what they have.

  • Comment number 36.

    The "Signs to look out for" shtick sounds like a knee-jerk reaction from twenty-odd years ago.
    I started playing games in the early 1980's and still enjoy virtual flights of fancy on my PS3.
    Despite these past thirty years of self-abuse, I see myself as a fairly well rounded individual.

  • Comment number 37.

    I really don't see it as a problem. My grandparents told my parents that my brother and I spent too much time playing indoors but we are both now in our 40's with good jobs. good bodyweights (32" waists) and we don't drink, smoke or do drugs. Let kids be kids. Leave them alone - they have a lifetime of having to do other behaviours later in life. Just be thankful they are healthy.

  • Comment number 38.

    We are ALL addicts in our home, adults & children alike. We all like different

    things I love EBAY one child used to LOVE There but that closed down suddenly

    but plays with similar the other child loves MUSIC Both children love Facebook

    & my Other Half LOVES...trying to beat own score! The older child will

    eventually come off without been told but the younger NEVER!!! Has to be almost

    draged off....that's ok for now, we make sure homework & jobs around the house

    etc done first

  • Comment number 39.

    I wanted the latest gagdets as a kid - right from the celico and atari right through to the ps3 and nowadays I am sure my kids will want the same and while we can all ponder over halcyon days when ataris were cutting edge, cheap, and a-plenty, the reality is that technology moves at a lot faster pace and marketing is now cutting edge.

    While i will try to reign in my kids, i doubt peer pressure in school will stop them from wanting these new gadgets.

  • Comment number 40.

    Meh. It's so fashonable for experts to say that this or that is bad. I play games on computers still, and have done since the eighties. It's a good way to escape the daily grind, and occasionally learn things - not much different from reading a book. I don't watch much TV either.

    This is the exact same argument we had about TV, by the way - and still, somehow, society hasn't imploded. Wierd.

    We have this argument all the time - it's science at it's worst and most fearful. If the littl'uns like the computer - let 'em play. Don't go mad, but - still.

  • Comment number 41.

    Saw a proud dad in Game, buying the 18 rated Call of Duty for his son who looked about 10.

  • Comment number 42.

    The problem with kids is that its not always the content thats the issue, its the obsession that some of these games produce in young kids, to the point that its all they think about, when they should be thinking about a range of things.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Learn how to say "no". Set an example. Communicate with your kids.

  • Comment number 45.

    This and similar issues keep rearing their heads, how should we deal with anti social behavior, or how do we deal with gangs of youths walking the streets. Obesity in children, basically all come down to a single point that keeps being ignored which is there are some seriously poor parents in this nation that are damaging the health and wellbeing of future generations by not discipling and nurturing and most importantly educating these small vulnerable impressionable people.

  • Comment number 46.

    My children spend most of their screentime on Facebook, which is actually restoring the art of interpersonal communication. Yes, I know there are pitfalls, but our computer is in the living room and my kids are reasonably sensible. It certainly beats the language and behaviour of those who hang around "outside the shop" or "on the corner". I'm sure quite a few people know what I mean.

  • Comment number 47.

    Why is it so wrong for a child to be into computers and tv? I used to be one of these kids (and I guess I never grew out of it). My enjoyment for computers pushed me into a career which I love building software and websites for businesses.

    I must admit that I always wanted to do something involving a bit of skill and found various other activities which, had I known about before, would probably be doing and not involving a screen.

    I will point out that we are commenting at 10:45 on a friday night. If that isnt proof of screen addiction I dont know what is. Maybe we can form a help club like the AA?

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't know why it's ok to let children have a PC/TV in their rooms. I suppose it's easier than telling them they have to turn it off now because you want some peace?

    It's so noticeable, in the south where I live anyway, that when we get proper snow that children can actually play in because there's enough of it, at one time snowmen would appear everywhere. Now you go out for a walk. Might see two.

    Remember begging my parents to go out in the dark when it started snowing because it might be gone in the morning.

    What happened to that excitement? Getting out was healthy, although we didn't think of it like that, but we all enjoyed it.

    Now we even have a starling in our area which can imitate the sound of the pacman-type games - "peow,peow,peow".

    Of course I wanted things when I was growing up. I can only remember my mother gettng angry with me once. The rest of the time she dealt with my wants very cheerfully and firmly. She never had to go through the same argument twice because I learnt the first time. She just stood her ground.

    I think this is what parents need to start learning to do now.

  • Comment number 49.

    Just have things in moderation, and early on don't let them feel as if they own anything outright. For example: from about 11-15 (I didn't care about computers before then) we had a family PC, I could still go on and play games or whatever but I would get off knowing it wasn't solely mine.

    Just taking the screens away doesn't work, they just go to the house of a friend, wayhey, to them, problem solved.

  • Comment number 50.

    Fortunately, Windows 7 has parental controls, which allow you to specify the times at which a child's account will allow him/her onto the computer. Using these, it is possible to be strict about the matter, and not allow a lazy child to spend all his/her time sitting playing video games.

  • Comment number 51.

    41. At 9:57pm on 16 Jul 2010, justanotherworkerbee wrote:

    Saw a proud dad in Game, buying the 18 rated Call of Duty for his son who looked about 10.

    Yeah this annoys me as well. It penalises the adults and older teens that the game is meant for by making people think all games are for children.
    I just give them Mario or Zelda till it's obvious they know about all the things you have been trying to shield them from due to schoolfriends etc. Which usually happens around 14 ahah.

  • Comment number 52.

    To be honest, if they are going to sit on their backside I'd rather they play games rather than watch the X Factor. At least games involve brain activity.

  • Comment number 53.

    The computer & particularly the Internet is a wonderful thing, bringing to our armchairs a whole world of knowledge & opinion previously held in libraries around the world and individual's heads. It also allows the little guy to participate and not just be preached at. But with the "wheat" comes a whole lot of "chaff", and I'm thinking of facebook, twitter and the like.

    It's great that kids are becoming computer literate at an early age as their IT skills will surely serve them throughout life. I'm not wholly convinced computer games makes kids violent, before suich entertainment we had violent movies, and before that violent novels.

    It all comes down to the old adage of all things in moderation. Keep the computer in the family room. Give kids allocated time to use it - and stick to it. Educate them NEVER to give out personal details online. Get computer literate yourselves so you can join them surfing and guide them towards the more valuable resources. Remember not all games are bad or a waste of time, many are educational, and the most effective way of learning is when it's fun.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think it's nonsensical how we lump all manner of different activities together under the phrase 'screen time'. Do we talk about 'paper time', and lump classic Russian novels, sudoku, crosswords, The Dandy, The News of the World and Nuts together, and assume that these things have equal value simply because they're all printed on paper? No, for obvious reasons. So can we please stop being so Luddite, and pay more attention to the quality of activity our children are engaging in, and less to the medium in which it exists.

  • Comment number 55.

    I must be so lucky in my household.

    For a start I haven't disallowed my children their computers or TVs or stuff in their bedroom. They have a haven they can go to if we are watching something they don't want to watch, or if an argument is brewing. And yet they're not anti-social.
    One has found the joys of artistry on his computer and is currently doing an Art degree at college. He has many mates and also enjoys skateboarding. The online tips helped him to become the best skater in our small town.
    My other son has loined the RAF as an avionics engineer. He loved playing battle-strategy games and flight simulators.
    So when I look at where my children are I think that their computer experiences must have helped shape them.

    Of course, as normal parents we insist that our children sit at the table with us to eat, and everyone helps - either with cooking or washing and drying. We discuss a broad range of subjects, and I now learn as much from them as they learn from me (that actually makes me more proud than anything).

    I don't think it's how long children use a computer for, but why they are using the computer. Like most objects it can be a force for good or bad, and perpetuating negative values on the computer trickle-feeds to your child's attitude. If a child is hiding from the world on their computer then the parents are failing the child - don't blame the child for this, and if the child is learning or communicating on the computer then be available but give them space - they're entitled to privacy as long as they understand the line in the sand.

    And most of all, stay positive. If you are positive then your child will be positive - they'll use you as a role-model. With that behind them they can achieve great things.

  • Comment number 56.

    every since i was little ive always had a computer or console of some kind. im 26 now and i have a ps3,xbox 360,wii, and as DS, do i sit at home all day or night playing on them no!
    when i was younger there was plenty for us to do, football on the field, scouts or whatever but it was all fun, playing computer games were the last thing on my mind.
    now i play on them maybe for 2 hours a night, its either that or going out drinking everynight and im sorry but id rather be in the safe enviroment of my house than boozing everynight
    when will people learn that just because you play game wont screw your life up, there are a hell of a lot worse stuff your kids could be doing these days

  • Comment number 57.

    Kids, screen addicts?

    Well, the kids around here are either not interested in PC`s or they`re being raised properly by their parents and I fancy the latter is the obvious.
    They are seen playing outside every day after school, untill their parent(s) call them home.
    So, not all kids are screen addicts.

  • Comment number 58.

    33. At 7:44pm on 16 Jul 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    //If I didn’t know better I'd swear that there's a compsiracy afoot to dummy-down the next generation, make them stupid and pliable – a generation of zombies who don't think but take orders very well.
    They don’t read books, are proud that they don’t read books, cannot answer simple questions like for how many years are Senators elected, and spend most waking (h)ours developing their social networks.//

    I think you are perhaps American, Bluesberry. As a Scot I don't know for how long a senator is elected. But I can find out - on a computer. And whether it's on a computer or on the telephone or at the local meeting spot, developing social networks is good. In fact they can develop a much wider social network online, without the prejudices so many of us came across when we were young. I was 10 before I met a non-white person. Online I have friends from the other side of the world.
    Oh, and I forgot to mention in my last comment that I am a Scout leader, my boys went through the Scouting system and the oldest has now applied for his warrant. Computers don't preclude another life, and an outdoor one at that. They're not mutually exclusive.

  • Comment number 59.

    PaulRichard2 wrote:
    I agree with Dr Yellowlees, I think some children nowadays are a little too into games and TV, we need to be encouraging outdoor activities.
    "Oh they are outdoors around our neck of the woods Paul. During summer months kids as young as ten and eleven are out at 2 am and 3 am, causing mayhem. The favourite past times at present seem to be wheelie bin fires and stoning car windscreens".
    As with too much TV/computers it's feckless parenting. There really should be compulsory exams to become a parent.

  • Comment number 60.

    I found a simple solution when my daughter was young: we did without a TV for about 5 years. In that time she learned to appreciate books and other forms of entertainment. Simples!

  • Comment number 61.

    I strongly suspect that children's "screen addiction" - which means the child is effectively shackled to a chair in the building around the clock - is in fact a very convenient excuse for lazy parents.

  • Comment number 62.

    Binned the TV years ago because the quality is so poor. The kids don't miss it at all, parents love the absence of advertising and we have conversations instead.

  • Comment number 63.

    difficult one in these modern times given that computers are such a massive part of our lives. parents must be responsible and monitor their childs computer time and ensure that family life, communication and playtime activities take priority-preferably off the screen.

  • Comment number 64.

    #59. At 11:46pm on 16 Jul 2010, sue wright wrote:
    PaulRichard2 wrote:
    “I agree with Dr Yellowlees, I think some children nowadays are a little too into games and TV, we need to be encouraging outdoor activities.
    "Oh they are outdoors around our neck of the woods Paul. During summer months kids as young as ten and eleven are out at 2 am and 3 am, causing mayhem. The favourite past times at present seem to be wheelie bin fires and stoning car windscreens".
    As with too much TV/computers it's feckless parenting. There really should be compulsory exams to become a parent.”

    Was that you who replied to me Sue or someone whose post has since been removed? I’m unsure whether you’re quoting yourself there or quoting someone else.

    Anyway in reply to that comment. Obviously those are not the sort of outdoor activities I’m talking about, I’d have thought that was a bit of a given. We have the same problems down our neck of the woods and the problem has persisted even after the regeneration projects that brought back youth clubs to the area.

    If the only two choices for kids nowadays are for them to go out and get fit by being pains in the arses or stay at home getting fat, lazy and unfit then neither are acceptable. We need a third option, such as encouraging them to go out more but coming down hard on them when they go out and cause trouble. Sports being an obvious example.

    As for feckless parents. I agree that some people should not be allowed to be parents until they can prove they can do so responsibly, plenty of problem youths are the result of parents who just don’t care about raising kids properly. However as I’ve said repeatedly not all problem youths are the result of bad parenting, some parents do a brilliant job of raising kids and those kids still turn out bad, peer pressure can be a very powerful influence on a young mind. The problem is much more complicated than just blaming “feckless” parents.

  • Comment number 65.

    #41. At 9:57pm on 16 Jul 2010, justanotherworkerbee wrote:
    “Saw a proud dad in Game, buying the 18 rated Call of Duty for his son who looked about 10.”

    Game staff are supposedly told to look out for this sort of thing so you could report that Game store to trading standards. Assuming of course there’s no doubt that the game was for the son and not simply for him. Proving that was the case might be difficult.

  • Comment number 66.

    I find that there is a very simple device that can be removed to stop children spending excessive amounts of time playing computer games. It is a called a fuse because it will not work if it is taken out of the plug.

    My daughters are not able to watch TV or play computer games until they have done their school work and helped around the house because I hide the remote controls. It is a simple but effective remedy.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'll be 18 at the end of the month and have never had a TV in my house, we didn't get a computer until I was oooh.. 13? and the most advanced gaming thing I have is a Gameboy Color. Kids don't need technology! My two sisters are 13 and 8 and they're just fine without an X-Box or a Wii or whatever. And btw Jon Cooper, why on earth does a 12 year old need a laptop?? What are they going to use it for?? They don't have coursework to do or exams to research for! The only reason I'm looking at getting a laptop is because the uni I want to attend is at the other end of the country so taking my desktop (second-hand from a family friend) isn't really an option.
    My point is that if you buy your kids TVs/X-Boxs/Wiis etc. of course they will play with them! So how about buying them a football? Or a frisbee? Or a musical instrument? Or lego? Or Barbies? You can't complain that your kids never play outside if you buy them games to play inside! And what's wrong with doing something outside as a family? You never know if their parents take them places instead of just shoving them out of the door they might actually grow to like it!
    As has been said in previous comments, you're the parent, set an example and stop expecting your kids to know everything! You're there to teach them!

  • Comment number 68.

    How do you stop it? You take an active part in raising your child and make an effort to understand about parental controls and also decide when they use the computer and when they do not.

    If your child has unrestricted access to the internet in their bedroom then I would question your judgement.

  • Comment number 69.

    How do you stop your child becoming a screen addict? Don’t stop them. The more people indoors the less people I have to see and put up with. The less people in the countryside the better, keep them indoors, in fact encourage it, and the parents to.

  • Comment number 70.

    When I was a child wherever I went there were plenty of fields,open spaces for outdoor activities. Now with urbanisation they all disappeared.

    Even in the cities there are hardly any spaces left out. Soon our children will be nothing but robots programmed to function.

    I don't blame children for being screen addict but the environment that we live in.

  • Comment number 71.

    I note an unsurprising total lack of any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, for the conclusions in this article.

    Back when novels first appeared there was a moral panic about what they were doing to the psyche of those early readers, who were spending all hours of the day reading fiction rather than the Bible, and doubtless getting consumption.

    Then, of course, there's whatever sort of music might be popular at the time. Be it Jazz, Rap, Heavy Metal or Acid House it was destroying our kids minds, making them anti-social, making them violent, and so on.

    It was the same with Dungeons and Dragons. And 'video nasties'. There were moral or health-and-safety panics over BMX bikes, skateboards and pogo-sticks. And playing cards, of course.

    Lets not forget the evil Tamagotchi that was making children incapable of caring for a real pet, or that bastion of Satanic evil, Harry Potter. Of course it was Buffy before that, and I'm sure the Twilight panic is on the way.

    Bottom line- 'concerned' people, some of them in very big and important-looking hats, will always, always find something to tell us is about to destroy the fabric of society. And they always turn out to be wrong. Give children a loving home, listen to them and for crying out loud don't impose arbitary rules just to show them who's in charge, and they'll turn out all right. I did, and I've been a gamer since the Commodore 64 days.

  • Comment number 72.

    Oh, excellent, another idiotic scaremongering article about computer games written by someone who hasn't the first clue about the thing he's criticising. This will be so helpful to the parents who don't understand games themselves, thanks so much.

  • Comment number 73.

    I shut if off. What the heck is the matter with you people?

  • Comment number 74.

    my daughters aged 7 and 13 both have sky tv computers and video game consoles i have a pc and ps3 I also use a blackberry my wife has a laptop however my kids both love going out and taking pictures in the park or nature reserves my eldest enjoys art and reading whilst the younger enjoys sport and art both are well adjusted kids all we do is set ground rules on how long they can use the pc's for and how long they can play video games and we qwuite often play games as a family its not rocket science its a good healthy balance its called being a PARENT

  • Comment number 75.

    It Is not the equipment that is the problem but the programmes or software that is allowed to be viewed. both TTV and computer are extremely useful tools in both education and parenting. BUT if the child is allowed to view ,or use the wrong materials then it becomes anti productive .

    The remedy ? Supervision both TV and the computer are not "Something to occupy the kids" ,whilst the parents watch telly in peace.Nor is TV a replacement for a Nanny.
    So if the parent does want to organise or supervise then - PULL THE PLUGS OUT OF THE WALL

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm amazed at some of the comments on here, I see a couple stating 'human rights' when the poor mite has to do something it doesn't want to! Well. tough, thats life, the sooner the 'I want' generation realise this the sooner their kids will or should I say 'accessories'. Your failure to control and discipline your children is making life a pain in the backside for everyone else.

  • Comment number 77.

    It helps if the parents aren´t screen addicts!
    The world of children is joy: playing in mud and puddles, being read to (and cuddling on the sofa), playgrounds, climbing trees, making noise with kitchen utensils (and driving Mum potty), drawing, making things with paper and glue, baking bread etc. If they are allowed to enjoy these things from the very beginning they will have a solid foundation for their lives and are less likely to become anything addicts.

  • Comment number 78.

    Its ever so easy to control the amount a child does on any form of computer/games console, what you do is TURN IT OFF, get a grip people.

  • Comment number 79.

    Try using EDUBUNTU as your childs operating system its designed for education and is totally free it even comes with a program that allows you to check what your child is doing online from your own PC. Do some research its called good parenting skills. It can also be used for all the childs school work and is totally safe and FREE.

  • Comment number 80.

    So many people saying that 'moderation is the key'. Can anyone tell me where on the keyboard the moderation key is; I can't seem to find it on mine.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Computer is nothing but the result of issuing of some complex command on a minute instable silicon chip to behave as per our desire through use of assembly of various Machines with a language installed. When an static object behold so many orders inside, to know of everything which we consider as knowledge outside to measure one’s degree of intelligence to offer him or her a position within us, is it than something which we are acquiring from outside? The answer is possibly no. Therefore the knowledge being available within oneself, one’s depending on the same on outside feeds than allowing one’s own knowledge to play its part, the knowledge which is hidden within oneself shall become dormant one day through happening of a slow degradation. The more and more we derive pleasure from such outside feeds considering it more stimulating, beautiful and enjoyable, the more we are making the Brain to remain idle.

    The moment the chip become aware of it that the command is not from within but from outside who is issuing it by impersonating oneself, our Brain shall become dull by that time to find nothing but blank space everywhere to see nothing ahead. This shall bring ourselves to the stage of Adam and Eve with no science playing a part in helping us to do our various tasks at ease. Hence excessive use of everything is always harmful both to the Society where we are living-in in general and to oneself in particular who is using it continuously to loss his or her reasoning capacity to make a rightful analysis of various normal events that governs a life.

    (Dr.M.M.HAZARIKA, PhD)

  • Comment number 82.

    Whatever happened to parents saying no you can't do that to children, Its seem like children rule the house these days.

  • Comment number 83.

    A little bit of advice regarding teenagers and their obsession with social networking sites.

    If you have more than one PC in the house DO NOT Network them. Monopolise one of them yourself with the network connection and provide the aforementioned teenager/s with a Broadband dongle, give them a time limit for this and then TAKE it Away. It is far easier to remove a dongle than a Computer from a bedroom and just as effective.

    Doesn't stop them using the Mobile phone however,make this on Pay as You Go and if they run out of credit tell them to pay top up out of allowance themselves or hide the top up card!

    These systems work!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Have parents forgotten the magic word, 'No'?

  • Comment number 85.

    My little one has access to the computer with his own assigned log in that is set up to allow him time in the afternoons and weekends, however 'free' access during these hours does NOT mean he can access all areas of the internet or is on the computer all day.

    Quite often HE will CHOOSE to play outside with a scooter/football/trampoline instead. If he does choose to go on the computer he knows not to spend to long on it in one go (even if he wanted to !) because we sat down and TALKED it through. Communication really is the key.

  • Comment number 86.

    When I was a kid I was always out on my bike miles away from home with my mates, making dens, playing in dangerous waters, mucking about in wheat fields building haystack tunnels.

    Hyper parental protection and government red tape along with high profile health and safety regulations have eroded childhood.

    Computers TV and games machines are the alternative to imagination, children of today live in a fictional world created by their parents and government because that’s where they are safe. It’s time to release our children to give them back what we had the freedom to play.

    As a father I am fully aware of the dangers out there for my children but we cant molly coddle them for ever, today they have mobile phones contact with the outside world, my friends and I never had that privilege, mothers of the 60s and 70s were lucky to see their children, I used to be out all day with my mates, kids today tie themselves to the home.

    In my house the TV goes off if the weather is good, the games machines go off if the weather is good and my children are told to go out and use their imagination, just as I did as a child many years ago, children of the 60s and 70s never had games machines we didn’t need them we made our own imaginary worlds, kids today have lost the ability to use their imagination because we give them everything we make life easy, but don’t forget we also have the power to take away everything we give.

    Is it not time for parents to see the light see the damage they are causing to their children and free them from the four walls that they live in day in day out, let them discover what’s out there, let them go play the games health and safety now stats are dangerous, let them live.

    Lastly we all know one of the main concerns for the parent today is that of the paedophile, if our government, police and local authorities were more open about who and where these paedophiles are, then many of our problems would be resolved and our streets much safer, presently paedophiles are being protected should it not be our children who should be protected, yet again the law protects the offender is it not about time this situation changed?

  • Comment number 87.

    Yada, yada, yada to all those from the 'just say no, it's that simple' brigade. They must surely inhabit a fool's paradise and may well be forced to face the fact that, despite best efforts, the cruel world will inevitably intrude. Certainly say no, certainly mean it but, for heaven's sake, don't imagine your word will always be law. Living in this world means you will have no choice but to face its problems.

  • Comment number 88.

    Without going down the 'it's the parents fault!' on this one - it would do no harm to show kids that some of these virtual utopias actually exist and that there is a major difference between pixels and reality!

    Unfortunately this is down to the parents to want to do too. That is, if they're not job hunting or worried about losing their home or too busy getting leathered over the weekend.

  • Comment number 89.

    Oh I dunno, interact with them?
    There again if they are just work-units who REALLY cares?

  • Comment number 90.

    Parents need to exercise more control and be a lot more authoritive and disciplined with their little "precious" cargos. UK society appears to be under the tryanny of indulged childhood today, get a grip and let your kids know who is the boss!

  • Comment number 91.

    "How do you stop your child becoming a screen addict?" (HYS):

    By caring for them and their future, explaining to them and being responsible - EG: Proper Parents who are not too lazy and self-centred to say 'No'.

    Nothing Government or Media say's will reverse this destructive 'addictiveness' until Parents do what's clearly proper: 'guide' their Chidren - for the SAKE of their Children - instead of themseves...

  • Comment number 92.

    2. At 5:30pm on 16 Jul 2010, toycollector wrote:
    Before you make a comment on this subject. Look at this.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]


    So when did HYS start carrying advertising for private "Personal Development" consultancies? I know the BEEB is under pressure to find extra income from sources other than the licence fee increases, but surely opportunist adverts like this are contrary to policy?

  • Comment number 93.

    by making it so you have to use a password before using it then don`t let them know the password

  • Comment number 94.

    Your child is awaiting moderation.

  • Comment number 95.

    4. At 5:35pm on 16 Jul 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    There is a two letter word to prevent this.


    9. At 6:05pm on 16 Jul 2010, Patty wrote:

    Just say 'NO'.


    These two comments serve to illustrate why existing within a state of matrimony can so often be a disappointing experience. You have been warned. ;-)

  • Comment number 96.

    I would simply encourage real games & more reading.

  • Comment number 97.

    86. At 10:03am on 17 Jul 2010, Steve wrote:
    When I was a kid I was always out on my bike miles away from home with my mates, making dens, playing in dangerous waters, mucking about in wheat fields building haystack tunnels....." (Please read his whole post).


    Steve, I couldn't agree more! The sooner that children are set free to explore and enjoy the real world, rather than being held prisoner at home for fear of the one paedophile in five million ordinary citizens, the sooner a monitor or TV screen will lose its allure.

  • Comment number 98.

    I guess we are all losing the ability to interact with each other outside of the internet, which started out as a tool to exchange information, ideas and enable access to the best libraries in the world?

    Our family like to read blogs and contribute too, which can be addictive - especially when a blog fight breaks out? But we also use online libraries and museum sites for research in our work and enjoyment.

    However, games and gaming are something entirely different; a unique, sinister and mind-numbing species of software? These are not inter-active in the true sense of the word; offer nothing but a one-way stream of automated congratulations in a tiny closed world that most addictions provide for the addict?

    Would go further and suggest that adults as well as children, are equally vulnerable to addiction to computer games - let's not forget the brains behind these games - you can safely assume the inventors and distributors, and their children, are not allowed to use them???

  • Comment number 99.

    As many have said already, restrict or remove the access to computers. If the child is already hooked, completely remove it. But successful avoidance of or recovery from addiction is also about removing the conditions in which it can happen, as well as removing the opportunity to use or be tempted to, or things which will make them crave it more. So as well as well as removing the computer access, removing television access is a good idea, and preventing them from visiting friends who use. Treat it like you would drugs. Encourage them to engage in suitable outdoor pursuits in the summer. Fishing, birdwatching, walking, encourage them to think of their own ways of making amusement, and develop initiative. In the dark days of the winter, sit around the fire listening to the home service, engage with them in parlour games, and encourage them to read in order to improve their mind. Suitable material would include The Lives of Great Men and Women, the History, myths and folklore of These islands, the lives of people in other countries. I can recommend Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopedia, published 1905, though not too difficult to find.
    Teach them basic cookery.

  • Comment number 100.

    My sister limits her kids to one hour television a night, half an hour video games and all after homework has been completed. They then are to either read a book or do chores. Their rooms are tidy, they are down to earth and able to hold a conversation with any adult. They know the rules and any transgression is met by a disproportionate consequence - the last time my nephew lost his video games for two months. They understand; they are children but that does not mean they cannot understand consequences. It sounds hard when I write it down but seeing the evidence for myself I know what I prefer compared to some of my friends kids who are "game heads", unable to hold a conversation and are failing in their studies.

    Rules and consequences.


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