Spending hours glued to the television or PC damages childrens' relationships with their friends and parents, according to a new study.
Dr Rosalina Richards of New Zealand's University of Otago says that parents shouldn't worry that their children might feel excluded if they aren't watching the same TV programs or playing the same games as their friends.
"Our findings give some reassurance that it is fine to limit TV viewing. In fact, it may result in stronger relationships between young people, their friends and their parents," she says.
The study involved 3,043 New Zealand 14- and 15-year-olds who completed a confidential questionnaire about their free-time habits, as well as an assessment of their attachment to parents and peers.
"With the rapid pace of evolution in screen-based technologies, ongoing research is needed to monitor the effect they are having on the social, psychological and physical well-being of young people," says Richards.
The authors suggest that teenagers who have televisions or PCs in their bedrooms may be spending less time with their families and friends.