Parenting experts claim that children’s programs like Peppa Pig are turning kids into ‘emotionless zombies’.

Parents are using television as a child-minding tool which could be having a seriously negative effect on their development, according to Dr Karen Phillip.

Dr Phillip, from Sydney, believes children who are exposed to these programs are likely to feel less empathy and lack the ability to read body language.

“Even with their friends, they’ll play next to them on an iPad but not with them,” she told Courier Mail.

“They’re sitting in front of a screen and being entertained externally and continuously. Even four and five year olds are losing the ability to come up with new games, new concepts and new ideas because they’re so used to being entertained by an external source.”

Dr Phillip said it’s mainly the ABC2 programs including Peppa Pig, Shaun The Sheep, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom that are at the helm of the issue because parents think they are beneficial to children.

However she agrees children still have the potential to develop while watching television, but they’ll require interaction with their parents at the same time.

“If parents interact with them during a show or if they want to watch, say Peppa Pig and they’re doing the singing and dancing and interacting, that’s completely different,” she said.

“We just need to make sure that we provide the opportunity for children to engage in their own play.”

“Parents think that there is trusted content there and that they’re not going to get pester power from it so they’re very happy to encourage the screen being the childminder,” said Media analyst Steve Allen.

“Kids are no longer resisting appointment viewing. They get home from school or from playing outside and they’re very happy that their favourite program comes on — whether it’s at 3.30 in the afternoon or 7.30 in the morning.”

Parents are arguing with the claims, saying the cartoon has taught their children about empathy, kindness and creativity.

Children’s technology and development expert Dr Kristy Goodwin understands that many parents are concerned and confused about the impact of technology on their children. But she believes we really don’t need to worry so much.

Dr Kristy believes the amount of advice circulating for parents is overwhelming, contradictory and, more often than not, inaccurate.

As a result, cycles of techno-myths are perpetuated and circulated among well-meaning parents, such as:
·       technology causes ADD and ADHD
·       TV, touch screens and video games are ‘bad’ for children
·       baby DVDs and Mozart will boost brain development and enhance language skills
·       children don’t learn from video games
·       leaving the TV on when no-one is watching is okay
·       there are ‘safe’ amounts of screen time.

She believes, rather than fearing or banning technology, we should aim to create healthy digital habits in our children. The technology is here to stay so we have to show our children healthy and helpful ways to use it (so it doesn’t derail their development). Technology is changing the ways young children learn, develop and play. We can use the available research to leverage technology to meet children’s developmental needs, help them learn and minimise any potential harmful effects.’

How much TV does your child watch each day?

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  • As with everything, if your child is not engaging with someone but just watching a screen then it is time taken away from other development such as speech, language, gross motor, fine motor, socialisation and emotional skills. When you think about that, it isn’t that hard to just turn the screen off.


  • My kids love all kids shows but hubby and I sit and watch and discuss it with them. I think to is ok but like everything, in moderation.


  • Our youngsters both like Mister Maker and the things he creates. Some of the things he uses re-cycled objects which amuses the kids even more. Sometimes they later try to make things he has made. Some of his ideas have practical uses too. THey also like Play School. Part of it is educational so they are also allowed to watch that.


  • We don’t watch much tv, maybe half an hour during the week, and not every day. A little more during the weekend.

    • Sounds sensible – there is so much else to see and do.


  • Again it comes down to – everything in moderation.


  • My kids used to watch the Disney channel which had lots of tweenage sitcoms, then noticed that they were picking up the smart-mouthed, disrespectful language and behaviour used on the Disney shows. Ended up blocking the Disney channel which was for the best.


  • There are some wonderful educational programs on TV out there which I wish were around when I was young. The discovery channel for example really educates and makes science interesting and easy to understand.


  • I think as long as parents know what their children are watching, limit screen time, and interact with them, there shouldn’t be a problem.


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