23/06/2009 09:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

TV Is Like Feeding Children "Mental Uranium"

Children should watch no more than one hour of television a day, according to experts.

But the average six-year-old has already spent more than one full year of its life watching TV.

Shockingly, half of all three-year-olds have a TV set in their room.

Oliver James, a clinical psychologist writing in The Guardian newspaper, says television is like feeding children "mental uranium".

He says it also makes us fat and can lead to eating disorders and other health problems.

"The Department of Health should be mounting massive public health campaigns to persuade us to watch less but that is unlikely to occur," he says.

James quotes a series of terrifying statistics about the idiot box and its effect on children.

This has particularly been studied in countries where television was introduced later than in Western Europe.

In Fiji, nobody had televisions until 1995 and there were no cases of bulimia.

Within three years of TV being introduced, 11 more likely to have attentional difficulties.

All this has frightened me enough to make me think seriously about how much TV my own children should watch.

When I was a child I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of TV. I must have been the only child at my primary school, and possibly in the country, who wasn't watching Neighbours in the days of Kylie and Jason.

But it did mean that I missed out on a lot of playground conversations because I had no idea what they were talking about.

I want to set a balance for my children. I don't want them to be socially excluded but neither do I want to feed them too much "mental uranium".

My daughter is only four months old but already she is captivated by the moving pictures. I try not to put the TV on too much but do watch a lot of sport. I wonder if that counts?

I'd like to hear from other parents – how much TV do you let your kids watch?

Source: [The Guardian]