While controversy continues to surround the way the content of screen media affects children’s thoughts and behaviour, a growing body of empirical evidence shows that watching television causes physiological changes. Most of these effects occur irrespective of the type of programme children watch – whether it’s sex and violence or the Teletubbies. It is the medium, not the message, and banning advertising to children does not address this fundamental influence.
Dr Aric Sigman is a Member of the Institute of Biology and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He travels abroad frequently to observe the influence of television in various cultures, including Bhutan, Tonga, Myanmar, Iran, Korea, Vietnam, Mali, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Eastern Siberia, and has written a new book Remotely Controlled: How television is damaging our lives, summarising the empirical literature concerning the biological, psychological, social and political effects associated with watching television. His health and psychology book Getting Physical won The Times Educational Supplement’s Information Book Award in 1993. He compiles research reviews for a range of both charitable and non-charitable organisations. Dr Sigman will explain how early exposure to screen media alters brain function and physiology, and profoundly stimulates consumerism in children.
Article published in Biologist: Visual Voodoo: The Biological Impact of Watching Television. Biologist. Vol. 54 (1) 14 – 19.