Allowing children to watch television is 'the greatest unacknowledged health scandal of our time' says a leading psychologist.
Dr Aric Sigman believes TV should be banned for toddlers and severely rationed for children over the age of three, because their brains are undergoing massive development and can be detrimentally affected, resulting in learning and behavioural problems.
Dr Sigman will make a speech to members of the European Parliament today, claiming that governments should be doing more to make parents aware of the dangers of too much time in front of television or computer screens.
His work, along with studies by other researchers around the world, links TV and computer time with problems including obesity, high cholesterol and blood pressure, inattentiveness, declines in maths and reading, sleep disorders and autism.
'Irrespective of what our children are watching or doing on the screen, a clear relationship is emerging between daily hours of screen time and negative medical, psychological, behavioural and educational consequences,' Dr Sigman says in his speech.
'The more hours per day, the more likely the risk of these negative consequences and the greater their intensity.'
Dr Sigman believes that, from the ages of three to 12, children should be limited to an hour a day, rising to an hour and a half for teenagers. He also says that TVs and computers should be kept out of children's bedrooms until the age of 15.
Recent evidence suggests that some British children spend as much as seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen – the equivalent of a full year of 24-hour days by the age of seven.
Do you think TV should come with a health warning? Does it affect children's development or is this just scaremongering?