Children who spend prolonged periods of time using technology are more prone to obesity, a new study suggests.
A group of child health specialists have found “a strong link” between rising child obesity levels and frequent exposure to social media.
In light of their findings, they are warning parents to take action by limiting their children’s screentime to 90 minutes a day.
"Parents should limit TV viewing and the use of computers and similar devices to no more than 1.5 hours a day and only if the child is older than four years of age,” advises lead author Dr Adamos Hadjipanayis.
"Moreover, paediatricians should inform parents about the general risk that mass media use poses to their children's cognitive and physical development."
The average toddler today spends an hour watching TV, the researchers found.
By the time a child has reached the age of nine, they are watching more than seven hours daily and spending much of the rest of their time engaging in other forms of digital media, reports The Daily Telegraph.
It’s hard for them to escape it too, given that 97 per cent of European households have at least one television while 72 per cent have access to a computer, the study, published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, found.
Researchers believe this has contributed to the childhood obesity epidemic in Europe which has become prevalent in the last 25 years.
They also found that engaging in media late at night can be hugely disruptive to young people’s sleeping patterns, which can put them at higher risk of obesity.
In addition to banning TVs from children’s bedrooms, the study's authors advise parents to lead by example and reduce their own screentime, particularly when they’re in front of their own children.