It is ‘tantamount to child abuse’ not to let your four-year-old have access to the internet, according to a controversial professor.
Rather than protect them from online dangers, Professor Ellis Cashmore says a ban on screen time can be harmful to young children.
He claims it stops them from communicating, prevents them from learning about the world and exposes them to ridicule from their peers.
His research, conducted alongside international scientists, has now been compiled into a book titled ‘Screen Society’.
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It is ‘tantamount to child abuse’ not to let your four-year-old have access to the internet, research led by a controversial professor has claimed (stock image)
The book is a collaboration between researchers from Teesside University, Aston University and the University of South Australia.
They looked at 2,000 internet users and examined several previous studies on the topic.
They were led by Professor Cashmore, a cultural commentator and honorary professor of sociology at Aston University, Birmingham.
‘Society has been completely transformed by the combination of screens and the internet and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities,’ Dr Cashmore told the Times.
He recommends giving children unrestricted access from four years old and said youngsters were better at protecting themselves than people realised.
He said children use the devices to converse with other children, watch things and play games, which are all important for their development.
‘By removing screens, you are taking away an encyclopaedic source of information, depriving young people of a vital source of communication and potentially exposing them to a form of bullying and ridicule from other young people — reducing their self-esteem and confidence’, he warned.
The sociologist claimed that depriving children of access to screen time would ‘almost certainly have long-term negative effects for them and is tantamount to child abuse.’
The NSPCC advises parents to educate their children about the risks of going online.
Parents have previously been warned to act on the increasing amount of time children spend glued to their screen.
Children as young as eight spend more time online through the day, including at school and when studying, socialising, eating and playing sport.
The risk of letting children have unrestricted access to ‘screen time’ is overstated and youngsters should spend as much time as they want online, researchers found (stock image)
At the end of last year it was revealed that British children were spending nearly five hours a day online.
An Oxford University study showed their average daily screen time has jumped in a generation from just under three hours to four hours and 45 minutes a day.
In the year 2000-01, children aged eight to 18 spent two hours and 59 minutes a day in front of screens, according to data taken by the report from the national UK Time Use Survey.
But in just 15 years that has risen to almost five hours, as they now spend two hours and 16 minutes a day on electronic devices like phones and tablets.
Time spent on computers has increased by 40 minutes a day, as Facebook, Instagram and other social media have taken over children’s lives.
The study notes that in 2000 smartphones were ‘relatively novel’ and the iPad had just been released.
Now, with almost 70 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds owning a smartphone, the time spent on mobile devices has added 76 minutes of screen time to every day.
Children are also spending an extra 40 minutes each day using computers.
This means youngsters spend around a third of their waking lives glued to technology.