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Friday, December 26, 2008

Lack of TV norms lets terror take toll on kids

Post-26/11, 25% Rise In Children Suffering From Anxiety, Insomnia

Kounteya Sinha | TNN

New Delhi: India does not have a national guideline to regulate TV viewing among children. And it's seriously affecting the country's youth. Live images of Mumbai's recent siege by terrorists on TV—gun shots, bomb blasts, raging fires and charred bodies—have caused serious mental trauma among kids. Psychiatrists are seeing a 25% increase in the past one month of children suffering from anxiety and insomnia.
    Parents have no idea how much TV is safe. This made them allow their kids to stay glued to the TV, watching as Mumbai bled. Paediatricians, on the other hand, have no official regulation to refer to when examining children addicted to TV.
    Psychiatrist Dr Jitender Nagpal from Vimhans said, "Following the Mumbai attacks, we are seeing a stark increase in children suffering from insomnia, fear of going to school and anxiousness. WHO's recent report 'Violence and Health' clearly states how sounds of gunfights and its images can give kids nightmares, seriously putting at risk their personality development and affecting their sleep, appetite and motivation."
    "It is imperative that India comes out with guidelines specifying how much TV should children be allowed to watch and
what programmes are good for them."
    Paediatrician from Apollo hospital Dr Anupam Sibal said with changing social norms, largely unsupervised children are addicted to TV. "It's cutting down their physical activity, making them prone to obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The Mumbai attacks have shown us that time has come to develop TV viewing norms fit for Indian children," Dr Sibal said.
    Several western countries have in place such regulations. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2004 recommended that chil
dren under the age of two not be exposed to TV at all, while youngsters over the age of two be limited to no more than two hours of TV per day.
    Officials of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) also says it has similar regulations in place. But a funds crunch has jeopardized its efforts to popularize the regulations. Dr C P Bansal, head of IAP's adolescents wing, told TOI, "At present, we prescribe no TV for pre-school children and half-an-hour to one hour of TV viewing for children aged 2-18 years of age. No TV should be allowed in the children's bedroom. Children should sit at least 6-7 feet away from the TV screen."
    "Last year, we disseminated the guidelines in 13 states but could not continue because of lack of funds," Dr Bansal said.
    Paediatrician Dr S C Arya said the guidelines should be nationally propagated. "Parents must take active interest in monitoring TV viewing of their kids from early childhood. Parents must fix TV viewing hours per day/per week and adhere to them strictly. They must also approve the programmes children watch."

Matrimonial disputes harming kids: HC
New Delhi: The trauma of children whose parents are involved in matrimonial disputes has drawn the attention of the Delhi high court which said such couples often remain unmindful of the psychological, mental and physical impact it has on kids. "They are not only deprived of the love, care and affection of one of their parents but practically become targets for the parties to score over one another in this mad race and obsession to win possession, exclusive control and custody of the children,'' the HC said in a recent judgment. "Children whose parents seek divorce witness negative family interactions prior to the divorce and experience strained familial relationships after the divorce.'' AGENCIES


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