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  1. ITV Report

Toddlers who spend hours staring at phones, tablets and TVs at risk of developing future addictions

Children are at risk of developing screen dependency disorder in later life. Credit: GMB

Toddlers who spend hours staring at phones, tablets and TVs could develop addictions in later life, experts warn.

A Good Morning Britain survey of 1,000 parents revealed 25% of under twos are having up to three hours of screen time a day.

This can lead to screen dependency disorders, such as smartphone addiction and computer game addiction, as they grow up.

Mum Jodie White sought help for her son Oliver, who would sometimes watch three devices at one time.

She said: "I would say Oliver is on the iPad or the phone for at least three hours a day.

"If my phone has no charge, or if he's on something and it runs out of charge, he launches it.

"If I say no or take it off him he will have the biggest paddy on the planet, so sometimes it's just easier to let him be."

Mum Jodie White sought help for her son Oliver. Credit: GMB

After seeking help from a child behavioural therapist, Jodie says she has cut Oliver's screen time down to a quarter of what he was having.

The simple tips she used were:

  • No screens before bedtime
  • No screens at the dinner table
  • Small children should only be allowed 10 minutes of screen time a day
  • As parents, don't be afraid to say no
Dr Aric Sigman said children should not be given their own devices until they are older. Credit: GMB

Excessive screen time for toddlers has already been linked with childhood obesity as they are sat for long periods of time and type 2 diabetes.

There has also been a rise in screen dependency disorders, mostly computer game addiction, in children aged eight to 14.

And in the US the problem has become so severe that 'smartphone rehab' centres have been set up.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman said it was important children learned life skills through technology.

But he added this could be picked up at any time: "There is no evidence that if they do not access to screens before the age of two that they will deprived and won't become digital natives."