Is Your Child a Screenaholic?; Every Parent Thinks Their Child Watches Too Much TV, but Do They Know the Whole Truth? We Put Three Families to the Test
Appleyard, Diana, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: DIANA APPLEYARD
CHILDREN in Britain watch the most TV in Europe, according to a new survey. This, coupled with the increasing use of computers, has led experts to fear we are breeding a generation of screen addicts.
Do you know how many hours your youngster spends in front of a TV or computer?
DIANA APPLEYARD asked three teenagers to keep a screen diary for a week.
The results make disturbing reading - not least for their parents.
KIMBERLEY EGEGE, 13, lives with her mother, Kal, 39, who works for a car company, and brother Ashley, eight, in Sutton Coldfield.
Her parents are divorced and her father Michael, 42, is a project engineer.
Kimberley attends a state grammar school in Birmingham.
HOW MANY HOURS SHE THINKS SHE WATCHES: 16.
HOW MANY HOURS HER MOTHER THINKS SHE WATCHES: 21.
REAL SCREEN TIME: 21 HOURS.
* MONDAY: After school I watched part of the film Mickey Blue Eyes (Certificate 15) on Sky Premier.
Usually I spend more time either watching TV or on the computer.
TOTAL: One hour.
* TUESDAY: I spent an hour before lunch on the school computer making and presenting pie and bar charts. When I got home I watched Two Guys And A Girl on the Trouble channel, before doing my homework. At 9pm I watched the film Ten Things I Hate About You on Sky Premier 5.
TOTAL: 2 1 /2 hours.
* WEDNESDAY: I spent quite a lot of the lunch break checking my emails and Hotmailing friends using the school computer. I was worn out when I got home so I watched American sitcoms on the Trouble channel.
TOTAL: 1 3 /4 hours.
* THURSDAY: A bit of a TV night. I got home and watched American sitcoms and MTV for an hour, and then another half an hour watching Smart Guy on the Disney channel.
TOTAL: 1 1 /2 hours.
* FRIDAY: This is my big TV night it's my way of relaxing. I watched music videos on MTV and American sitcoms on Trouble. My favourite programme Friends was on tonight, and the last thing I watched was So Graham Norton on Channel 4. I also spent half an hour playing the internet game Snake Online on my computer.
TOTAL: Seven hours.
* SATURDAY: I went to a friend's house and we watched the movies Bowfinger on Sky Premier 4 and Die Hard on Channel 4.
TOTAL: 3 3 /4 hours.
* SUNDAY: I watched music videos on MTV and Teen Angel on Disney, then I did homework on my PC for half an hour, checked my emails for an hour and spent an hour on the internet chatting to friends.
TOTAL: 3 1 /2 hours.
KIMBERLEY says: I don't think I'm unusual in the amount of TV I watch or the time I spend chatting on email. A lot of my friends spend much more time than me in front of a screen - often all night.
Watching TV is my way of relaxing and Mum understands that.
She doesn't mind me watching Sky or 15-rated films, but she would draw the line at 18-rated films.
I've got a TV and computer in my bedroom and Mum gets cross when she finds me watching TV late at night, but she trusts me and I wouldn't want to break that trust.
HER MOTHER says: Kimberley looks forward to watching TV when she gets in from school and she would get cross if I turned it off.
But I was a bit shocked to see how it all adds up. She doesn't have Sky in her bedroom so we watch films together and I thought I knew just how much TV she was watching.
But as long as she does her homework, what she does with her free time is fine by me. She uses the internet for her homework and spends a lot of time on chatlines so I'm not surprised how much time she spends on the computer.
EDWARD WILDING, 14, lives with his father James, 47, the head of an independent school, mother Jenny, 48, a teacher, and brother Tom, 17, in Maidenhead, Berks. Edward attends Claire's Court independent school.
HOW MANY HOURS HE THINKS HE WATCHES: 21. …