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32% of UK parents blame marketers for their children’s overuse of digital devices

Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK parents blame advertisers and marketers for their children’s overuse of digital devices including tablets, according to a new survey.

The report, conducted by optical specialist Lenstore, polled the views of 2,000 UK parents of children aged between two and 16 years old, highlighting that this particular generation was losing touch with “vital” life skills due to digital device overuse.

It revealed that more than half of children in this age bracket felt more confident using a tablet than they did learning to swim, telling the time or tying their shoe laces.

An average child was found to spend almost eight hours a day using technology, with parents citing online gaming as the main feature of their child’s digital habits, while more than half admitted they never monitor their child’s online activity.

London-based children spent even more time using some form of digital device, clocking up an average 10 hours a day – the highest in the country.

Meanwhile the study also showed that one in three children aged between two and four years old spend an average of over five hours using digital devices per day.

Almost a third (32 per cent) said they believe advertisers and marketers are to blame for encouraging children to overuse digital devices, while 36 per cent cited TV programmes as a one of the biggest “encouragers” of digital devices, with the same percentage citing games as the main reason.

A total 20 per cent cited toy manufacturers as playing a big role in encouraging the overuse of devices, while 28 per cent cited social media as the main cause, and 23 per cent listed pop stars.

Meanwhile a quarter of respondents said schools have had a hand in encouraging the overuse of digital devices.

Dr Rob Hogan, a registered optometrist and council member of the general optical council (GOC) said that children’s eyesight could be at risk due to the overuse of technology at such a young age.

“At the age of two, although a child’s eyesight is in fact developed enough to use the devices, sessions must be short and supervised to avoid long term damage.”

He also stressed the importance of “limiting access just before bedtime, as research has found that the ‘blue-ish’ light emitted from these devices may disrupt normal sleep patterns and can be damaging to eyesight, potentially causing vision to deteriorate over time.”

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