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Labor pledges $2.5 million for research on screen addiction in children

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Understanding screen addiction and its impact on children’s developing minds would be improved by a $2.5 million research fund under an NSW Labor proposal.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns said a lack of consistent data about the impact of screens, video games and mobile phones on young people and their learning had concerned him.

“For (wife) Anna and I, one of the biggest challenges in raising our children is getting them off devices – and I know we’re not alone,” he said.

“Screen addiction is a relatively new phenomenon parents are dealing with, and I’m worried we don’t have enough research to know what the full impact is on young people and their developing minds.

“It’s important that both parents and teachers have all the facts on the impacts of screens and devices on childhood development.”

The $2.5 million research fund, reliant on Labor winning the March 25 election, would be part of the education department’s annual grants budget.

It comes as Labor sits down on Friday with video game experts, the Australian Medical Association, child psychologist Jocelyn Brewer and concerned parents Dany and Cynthia Elachi, whose Heads Up Alliance encourages delaying children’s access to phones and social media.

“I have spoken to many parents who feel they do not have the support or information to tackle the growing issue of phone, screen and video game use among children,” Brewer said.

“So it is great to see political parties and governments tackling these modern issues and seeking solutions to support families.”

Screen dependency disorder, internet gaming disorder (IGD) and other emerging addictions related to screens are estimated to affect about one in 50 Australians.

Young males are particularly vulnerable.

IGD has been recently added to the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases.

NSW enforces a state-wide ban on mobile phones in primary schools but each high school can make its own rule on the matter.

Labor has promised to ban phones, smart watches and headphones during school hours across all state high schools unless students were under the instruction of a staff member – replicating bans in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

With AAP.

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