Too much television and time spent on the internet can make children mentally ill, according to major survey into British childhood.

Excessive exposure makes a child materialistic, which in turn affects their relationship with their parents and their health.

That is one of the conclusions of the new wide-ranging survey produced for the Children’s Society.

It says that children are part of a new form of consumerism, with under 16 year-olds spending £3 billion of their own money each year on clothes, snacks, music, video games and magazines. The report claims that some advertisers ‘explicitly exploit the mechanism of peer pressure, while painting parents as buffoons’ and that in its most extreme form, advertising persuades children that ‘you are what you own’.

In addition the ‘constant exposure’ to celebrities through, TV soaps, dramas and chat shows is having a detrimental effect.

It says: ‘Children today know in intimate detail the lives of celebrities who are richer than they will ever be, and mostly better-looking. This exposure inevitably raises aspirations and reduces self-esteem.’

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