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Child TV addicts 'are greedy and unhappy'

UK Daily Mail | July 16, 2007
SEAN POULTER

Television and the Internet are making children disruptive, disrespectful and greedy, government-backed research has found.

A study by the National Consumer Council will warn today: 'Those who spend lots of time in front of the TV and computer screen are more materialistic.

'These children argue more with their family, have a lower opinion of their parents and lower self-esteem.'

The research will make worrying reading for Gordon Brown, who has said one of his priorities is to challenge the 'erosion' of childhood.

He complained earlier this year that the Internet and TV had 'exposed children increasingly to the pressures of very aggressive advertising'.

The NCC report claims to have uncovered a divided society where the influence of adverts are exerted unevenly across social groups.

The authors found that deprived children are more likely to watch commercial television - as well as programmes made for an older audience.

This means they are exposed to more adverts - and the ones they do watch may not be appropriate for their age group.

The report found: 'Just over half of children - 51 per cent - from disadvantaged areas think that "when you grow up, the more money you have, the happier you are". Similarly, almost half of children - 47 per cent - in deprived areas would "rather spend my time buying things than doing almost anything else".'

By contrast only 23 per cent of youngsters from affluent families believed that money was the key to happiness and that shopping was a good way to spend time.

The NCC report, called Watching, Wanting and Wellbeing: Exploring the Links, added: 'These stark variations show that in some households the screen appears to be ever-present, particularly during mealtimes.

'In disadvantaged areas, for example, children are six times more likely to watch TV during the weekday evening meal.

'Furthermore, around one in four in disadvantaged areas say they have the TV on at lunchtime on Sunday, compared to only one in 30 from the better-off neighbourhoods.'

The report could lead to Government action to extend controls on the advertising of junk food and other products - perhaps including a ban through to the 9pm watershed

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