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Physicians Put Children And TV Under Microscope

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-ROYAL-AUSTRALASIAN-COLL

COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS PUTS CHILDREN AND TV UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Excessive or unsupervised television viewing by New Zealand children is leading to developmental problems, obesity and poor social skills, according to a book, launched by the Minister for Social Service, Work and Income, Roger Sowry in Wellington today.

Titled Getting in the Picture: a Parent's and Carer's Guide for the Better Use of Television for Children, compiled by the Australian and New Zealand Divisions of the Paediatrics of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the booklet cites research which suggests that babies only four months old are already watching an average of 44 minutes a day of television.

By the time that a child reaches adolescence, he or she has spent more time watching TV than attending school.

"Because television has become almost a universal experience of childhood, the health and developmental effects of TV are important," Mr Sowry said.

"Television viewing can be relaxing and a useful activity for young children and there are many ways in which parents and carers can help children get the best out of watching TV.

"Parents must understand that supervising children's television use is an important as supervising their nutrition and schooling.

"This booklet not only points out the pitfalls of excessive TV viewing, but offers practical ways for families to use television positively."

Dr Peter Watson, who assisted with the New Zealand version of the book, said research has shown that often excessive television viewing by children is an indicator of wider family or social problems.

"For example, television may be used as a form of babysitting, which can lead to a child being neglected, or children may use TV as an escape from stress and conflict," Dr Watson said.

"Others may simply fall into the habit of excessive television viewing because parents or carers do not actively involve themselves in supervising the use of the TV.

"The College is not advocating that children be banned from watching television - on the contrary - television can be enjoyable and educational for children.

"We are suggesting that children's viewing habits be supervised and out booklet offers a range of effective strategies for parents and carers to share with children to ensure they make the best use of television as part of a healthy lifestyle."

"This can result in children playing outdoors less which contributes to obesity, as well as children becoming overly influenced by television program stereotypes," he said.

Other research findings in the book include:

* By 30 months of age many New Zealand and Australian children

are watching an average of 84 minutes a day of TV, extending

to two and a half hours a day by the time the child is four

years of age;

* The average household views more than 22 hours of TV a week,

with the most popular timeslot between 7 pm and 8 pm;

* Children in day care, or those whose mothers work outside the

home, tend to watch less television than those who are at

home all day;

* The more TV children watch, the less sporting activities they

undertake;

* Children lose weight when they reduce the amount of

television they watch and increase their physical activity:

* From an early age (2-3 yrs) children can understand, in a

very basic sense, and memorise the literal aspects of what

they see - the features, the action, the dialogue.

"We hope that this guide will be just as useful to parents as the TV guide," Dr Watson said.

The booklet can be obtained from the RACP by phoning (04) 472 6713

ENDS....

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS

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THE ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS

What Is The Royal Australasian College of Physicians?

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (the College) comprises a Fellowship of medical specialists who are committed to providing the highest quality of care in internal medicine, paediatrics and sub-specialties to all people in Australian and New Zealand. Core functions of the College include training, accreditation and the maintenance of professional standards, as well as research and policy in areas such as workforce, public health, health financing and systems development.

The Division of Paediatrics is part of this management structure and includes the majority of consultant paediaticians in Australia and New Zealand. Within the Division of Paediatrics the Chapter of Community Child Health is a group of consultant paediatricians and other health care professionals interested in community child health and welfare.

Why is the College Involved?

Because television has become almost a universal experience of childhood, the health and developmental effects of television are important. Therefore the College sees that it has a role to raise the profile and discussion about these issues. Children's television viewing habits must be supervised in the same manner as their schooling and nutrition. This may be difficult for parents who must asist their children to resist television marketing and peer pressure from their friends about what, and how much, television they watch.

Health care professionals, like paediatricians, can help parents and encourage the industrty to take more action to ensure that children benefit from watching television.

Using This Booklet

This booklet provides parents and carers with information about how to make television viewing a more useful and positive activity for children.

RELEASED VIA MEDIACOM


(Correcting Previous Release)

Getting in the Picture: a Parent's and Carer's Guide for the Better Use of Television for Children, compiled by the Australian and New Zealand Divisions of the Paediatrics of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) was launched today by Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income, Peter McCardle.

The book was to be launched by the Minister for Social Service, Work and Income, Roger Sowry in Wellington today however Mr Sowry was unable to attend.

ENDS....

MEDIA ADVISORY FROM THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS

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