Child health education expert and psychologist Dr Aric Sigman visited Manchester High School for Girls recently to warn pupils and parents about the effect that an overload of recreational screen time can have on the self-esteem and mental health of young people. The negative effects that excessive TV viewing and extended computer use can have on physical fitness are well documented. Yet many parents are underestimating the dangerous consequences they can also have on the emotional well-being and social development of their child, he said.
Helen Jeys, deputy head and pastoral care lead at Manchester High School for Girls, said: “Let’s face it: from smart phones to iPads, laptops to virtual environments, screens are here to stay. They are part and parcel of young people’s lives and here at Manchester High we fully encourage all our girls to embrace the many positives that advancing technology has to offer.
“However, screen dependency is an issue. We understand that our parents can be locked in conflict on a number of fronts with their children: from homework to food, from suitable clothing to what is an appropriate bed time. Among all that it can be very hard to find the energy to manage screen time as well.
“Dr Sigman’s talk provided our parents with useful hints and tips; however, by speaking directly to the girls we aim to raise their awareness of what constitutes a healthy level of screen time, hopefully making mum and dad’s job a little bit easier!”
Dr Aric Sigman said: “There is a growing relationship between the amount of time young people spend watching screens every day and a range of physical, cognitive and educational problems. These include sleep deprivation and disorders, screen dependency, increases in body fat as well as damage to their ability to concentrate, social interactions and performance at school.
“My visit to Manchester High School for Girls wasn’t about lecturing parents, or indeed their daughters. It was simply to present the facts about screen consumption and how to avoid future issues.”