Parents must cut down children's screen time

21 May 2012
Diane Abbott, the shadow public health minister, has backed a call by psychologist Dr Aric Sigman for parents to cut down on screen time.

She said:

‘We need to start putting families at the front and centre of public health policy, rather than big business. The Foresight report has predicted that by 2025, nearly half of men and over a third of women will be obese, so we’ve got to start helping and empowering parents to do the right thing. It cannot be a good thing that by the age of ten, the average British child recognises nearly 400 brand names.’

In a keynote speech at think tank, Policy Exchange, on Thursday last week, Diane Abbott warned of the rise of ‘McParenting’. In the speech, she defined ‘McParenting’ as:

‘Parents in Britain who substitute materialism for parental responsibility. Children who have Playstation 3s, chips and locked bedrooms, when they should have fresh air, healthy food and warm family relationships.’

She also said in her speech:

‘Too many people who genuinely want to do their best for their children are struggling against a tide of marketing information, where the most money is spent on newspaper advertisements, television and (increasingly) online, peddling the unhealthiest foods...

‘We know that this is the most sedentary generation of children ever. We’ve seen the rise of ‘stranger danger’, which means that families refuse to let their children play outside....

‘We’ve seen the rise of home-based entertainment for children, televisions in bedrooms, computer games, home computers and tablets. It is crucial to get the message out to parents about the importance of physical exercise for children.
Too many parents think they are doing the right thing and being good parents by keeping their child ‘safe’ inside...’

Marking her intention to focus on British families, she called for a range of policy measures to support families, including changing the law to crack down junk food manufacturing online, which is aimed at children; changing the law so that academies must abide by regulations, like other schools, to provide healthy school meals; crack down on vending machines with fizzy drinks and chocolate etc on school premises.


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