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Alarm over child 'media addicts'

CHILDREN no longer talk, they shout, according to the Movement for Christian Democracy, because of their addiction to television, videos and computer games.

Alan Storkey, who chairs the movement, said this addiction was no accident, but was "the result of intense planning by many companies and organisations to make the media compulsive, to hook and capture audiences".

Media addiction, especially among children, has destructive effects on the basic aspects of life, said Mr Storkey, whose movement was founded by the former Liberal MP, David Alton.

"It undermines speaking, thinking, sleep, emotions, activity, seeing, concentration, reading, the shaping of beliefs, growth of relationships and even people's sense of identity."

Children's educational development is undermined by media addiction even before they start school, Dr Storkey claimed, adding: "Any serious attempt to address educational standards must consider it."

Dr Storkey said that he was amazed that the Office for Standards in Education had so far ignored the influence of the media.

He estimates that screen watching takes up a fifth of people's waking lives with children spending an average of 45 minutes a day playing computer games as well as viewing television or videos.

He accused commercial television of being "the fullest programme of indoctrination into materialism the world has ever seen: many children learn 'I want' from a very early age and impose it on their families."

Religious beliefs are largely ignored, and are also stereotyped, parodied and trivialised, he said.

The media are responsible for changing the art of listening, he said. Presenters on many programmes and games now shout. "The aural assault is amazing.

"The consequence is a process of desensitisation with kids switching off from ordinary talk," he said.

"Because people have a God-given value in themselves, using them as commercial pawns, without proper respect, is degrading and wrong," Dr Storkey added.

'Media Addiction: children and education', Movement for Christian Democracy, discussion paper 994 by Alan Storkey, is available from the Movement for Christian Democracy, The Mayflower Centre, Vincent Street, London E16 1LZ, price pound;2.50

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