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Technology overexposure makes children miserable

Children become increasingly unhappy the longer they spend playing computer games and accessing the internet, according to research.

Young people exposed to modern technology for more than four hours a day are less likely to display high levels of "wellbeing" than those limiting access to less than 60 minutes, it emerged.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics found that the use of video games and social networking had a number of advantages, including enhancing existing friendships and allowing shy children to communicate. But it warned of negative effects for young people exposed for technology for too long during the normal school day.

The conclusions come just days after a leading academic warned that a generation of children risks growing up with obsessive personalities, poor self-control, short attention spans and little empathy because of an addiction to social networking websites such as Twitter.

Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, said a decline in physical human contact meant children struggled to formulate basic social skills and emotional reactions.

Young people’s brains were failing to develop properly after being overexposed to the cyber world at an early age, she claimed.

According to figures quoted by the ONS, almost 85% of children born in 2000/01 have access to a computer and the internet at home. Some 12% have their own computer and the same proportion had a personal mobile phone.

The report said that children exposed to technology for lengthy periods of time were at greater risk of being targeted by cyber bullies and “perverted individuals”. There was also a danger of “obesity because of lack of physical activity”, said the ONS

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