Who You Hate Depends on How Smart You Are, Study Finds


According to a new study, people with both high and low intelligence are prejudiced—the difference is just who they are prejudiced against.

Past researchers have found that people of lower cognitive ability are more likely to be prejudiced, but prejudice isn’t exclusive to dim bulbs. A new study finds that people at both high and low ends of the intelligence spectrum actually express equal levels of prejudice—the difference is just what they’re prejudiced against.

The researchers, social psychologists Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford, analyzed 5,914 subjects in their experiment, “Answering Unresolved Questions About the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice.” Removing value judgments about whether a specific prejudice is justified or not, they measured the amount of prejudice present in groups of higher cognitive ability and lower cognitive ability. They gauged the cognitive ability of their subjects using a wordsum test, which is considered to be correlated to an individual’s intelligence quotient (IQ). Brandt and Crawford replicated previous findings that people of low cognitive ability tend to be prejudiced against non-conventional or liberal groups, as well as groups that have “low choice” in their status—groups defined by their race or gender or sexual orientation, for example. According to their research, this tendency inverted among people of high cognitive ability. In other words, the smarter subjects in their study were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional or conservative—groups perceived to have “high choice” in their associations.”

Read more: A Psychoanalyst Explains Why Men Draw Dicks on Everything

“People dislike people who are different from them,” Brandt and Crawford said in an interview with Broadly. “Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view.” In other words, if you see the world one way, you may rely on that perspective, so you might reinforce the idea that you’re right by believing other worldviews are wrong.

There was another polarized finding in their study. Brandt and Crawford found that people of low cognitive ability are prejudiced against groups that people didn’t choose to be part of, such as ethnic or LGBT groups. This is poignant in 2016, a time when conservative communities across the country are unifying around intolerance of transgender peopleMuslim Americans continue to face grotesque prejudice, and police brutality is high.

Brandt and Crawford cited prior research that has shown less cognitively capable people often “essentialize,” or see different groups as being distinct from each other, with “clear boundaries.”

“Having clear boundaries helps people feel like the opposing group is distinct and far away. That is, they won’t be so much of a threat,” they said. The researchers pointed to a recent study looking at this boundary phenomenon with respect to Donald Trump’s stupid plan to build a big wall along the southern border of the United States—it would create a literal boundary where before only a mental one existed.

The conservatives who support this plan are expressing prejudice towards “low-choice” groups—in this case, Mexicans, who were born Mexican and did not choose to be that. “On the flipside, people high in cognitive ability express more prejudice against high-choice groups,” such as conservatives, the researchers said. “They may be especially angered by groups that they think should be able to change their minds.”

Advertisements

A Psychoanalyst Explains Why Men Draw Dicks on Everything


Since time immemorial, men have been drawing dicks on stuff. But why? We attempted to unravel this timeless mystery.

As a woman, I can’t quite classify my relationship to the penis, drawn. On a subconscious level, the scrawled outline of a phallus is instinctively as amusing to me as it is a symbol of threateningly unchecked masculinity. (There’s certainly a reason why this article isn’t asking “Why do women draw vaginas on everything?”)

Nothing sums up this confusion more than the time I paid money for a drawing featuring a scene of multiple anthropomorphic penises drinking beer together. It all happened so quickly: I was walking down Bedford Avenue when a street vendor stopped me, pushing his framed, dick portraits in my path. He told me he was leaving New York the next day to go back home to Africa, and he needed to unload as much of his art as he could before then. “$20?” he asked, waving his various shafts around. Somewhat disoriented by his pitch, and somewhat impressed with his entrepreneurship, I reached into my pocket and found a $10 bill. He accepted my counter offer and I accepted his genital drawing, only to throw it away later when my boyfriend refused to let me hang it in our apartment amongst the “real art”—and when I saw the penis man back on Bedford the following week.

My poor judgement aside, the dick, as an art form, is certainly less abrasive than the dick as sexual advance; generally speaking, dick pics are universally maligned, but dick doodles—in their cartoonish approximation—are often tolerated and even championed. Divorced from the rest of their human form, they’re hardly erotic. They’re also everywhere, and they show no signs of waning. Men have seemingly drawn dicks—whether clandestinely in notebooks, on snow-covered lakes and cars, or on any surface not currently covered by penises—for ages. But why?

Image courtesy of Michael Yardley

Ask a psychoanalyst and they’ll tell you it’s obviously Freudian. “In psychoanalytic terms, castration is a core fear that everyone experiences, if not the core fear,” Dr. Vanessa Sinclair told me over email when I posed the question to her. “The classical example taken from Freud is that the little boy sees that his mother does not have a penis and this traumatizes him. He then fears that the same thing can happen to him—that not only could he lose his penis, but that he could be exposed and everyone will see that he does not have one. It makes him feel vulnerable. He does not have the phallus—perhaps he never did—and now everyone knows.”

She went on, “When you think of the phallus in a metaphorical sense, and not as a literal penis, it’s more about who has the power, who has the answer, who has what everyone is looking for. The reality of course is that no one has it. No one has the answer or the power, ultimately. They only do when others believe they do. As long as you are not fully exposed, you can keep people thinking that you have it. But there is a limit to that. So, essentially, the people who are drawing penises over and over again are trying to assert that they have the power. That they have the phallus and do not lack. That they’re not vulnerable. It’s the same classic example of older men who buy a sports car or motorcycle when their physical health and strength begins to decline.”

Though not exactly revelatory, when I turned the question on actual men, this theory seemed to hold true. Perhaps most insightful was a conversation I had with the anonymous guys behind Penised, a company marketed toward startups that “will turn your enemies’ logo into a penis.” But while the company started out using penises as a way for businesses to insult their competitors, the founders told me that they started getting “a lot of companies asking us to do their own logos due to how viral and popular the service got.”

That’s right: there are companies that eagerly want their own logos turned into dicks. If that’s not a power-asserting move, I don’t what is.

However, Michael Yardley, a 33-year-old Florida-based designer and prolific penis portrait artist, told me that he simply just likes drawing them. “I personally like to draw real exaggerated sweet potato-looking uncircumcised [dicks],” he wrote to me in email, adding that he would never stop drawing dicks unless it would “cure cancer.”

“I used to draw them a ton when I was first starting out back in the early 2000s, and actually got a little shine for it,” he said. “Then that movie Superbad came out and had a scene about [drawing dicks]. That ruined it for me for a long time, but now that shit has mostly blown over so I’m back at it when I can.”

Yardley theorizes that boys might draw dicks in their youth to get a grasp on their changing bodies. “You draw dicks from experience, which is only your dick. So if someone goes, “Eww why is the head shaped like that?” you know you are probably a freak and should see a physician about it.”

But maybe the best explanation is that there is no explanation for the spontaneous passion men feel for dick drawing. The very essence of life, after all, is a mystery.

Guilt is good: It may lead to better cooperation, says study


According to a recent study, feeling guilty can actually have a positive effect on our behaviour and help us manage a variety of issues.

The study found that guilt encourages people to repair a situation and helps to support cooperation.
Guilt Is Good

Feeling guilty has a positive effect on our behaviour and leads to better cooperation, according to a new study that could help people better manage everything from energy bills to climate change.

The study found that guilt encourages people to repair a situation and helps to support cooperation, while anger creates retaliation and a breakdown in cooperation. With the help of volunteers, researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK looked into the role of emotions.

Using a scenario based around shared energy use in the home, they found that when energy use was made visible with smart meters and usage is unequal, as is common, the group reacted angrily and retaliated by using more energy. However, if the person using more energy felt guilty and moderated their usage the situation would be repaired and cooperation restored.

 

“We all know the term ‘guilt trip’ and understand how it feels,” said Anya Skatova, who led the study while she was at Nottingham. “Our study shows that rather than being wholly negative, feelings of guilt can actually be positive and lead to positive behaviour and improve cooperation,” said Skatova, who is now at the Warwick Business School in the UK.

The research also showed that while everybody feels angry if others are uncooperative causing retaliation, some people just do not feel guilt and remain uncooperative. This imbalance causes decline in cooperation, researchers said.

“If we understand that guilt leads to cooperation we can begin to recognise this and moderate our engagement activities accordingly to improve it,” said Alexa Spence, from the University of Nottingham.

“Cooperation is vital to everyday life, from the very small annoyances like not picking up dog mess on the street to the larger political landscape.

“Recognising that anger can harm cooperation and guilt encourages cooperation could actually lead to a more harmonious society,” said Spence, co-author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Are you like Isaac Newton or Queen Victoria? Analyse your handwriting to find out


Your handwriting can reveal your personality traits, as it comes through the central nervous system, says a new study.

Handwriting
The slant in your handwriting indicates your social stance.

Your handwriting can tell if you have a personality similar to Isaac Newton or Queen Victoria, say scientists who have decoded character traits of some of Britain’s most famous names by decoding their writing style. Researchers from Royal Mail in the UK along with Tracey Trussell, a leading handwriting analyst studied letters and notes from UK’s defining figures such as Rosalind Franklin, Isaac Newton, Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, Millicent Fawcett, Charles Darwin and Elizabeth Fry.

The subjects were chosen as they were all keen letter writers and appeared in the 100 Greatest Britons or 100 Great Black Britons lists. “Handwriting is like ‘brain writing’ because it comes through the central nervous system. It’s a snapshot in time,” said Tracey Trussell, handwriting analyst in the UK.

Slant is an emotional barometer that measures people’s social stance. A marked right slant such as that in the writing style of Queen Victoria and Issac Newton indicates that a person is enthusiastic, responsive and that they do not want to hold back and tend to be highly proactive.

Writing consists of three zones — upper, middle and lower. The upper zone focuses on the parts of the letters that extend up wards like b, d, f, h and k, researchers said. People with a large and dominant upper zone have rich imaginations, creative mindsets and big aspirations. They are also intellectually savvy, ethical and have high standards, like Claudia Jones, Ignatius Sancho and Charles Darwin, researchers said.

A person with long and high t-bars is a take-charge sort of person, like Queen Victoria and feminist leader Millicent Fawcett. They are decision makers and perfectionists, they said. Narrow or non-existent right margin is when the end of a sentence leaves no space on the right hand side of the page. Words appear to fall off the edge of the page or dip down like in the cases of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The size of the right hand margin shows the writer’s real feelings towards the future. Those that leave no right margin are outgoing and engaging. They are also impulsive, goal-orientated and driven, researchers said.

A noticeably large (or inflated) letter ‘k’ shows people who are resourceful and defiant like Charles Darwin, Ignatius Sancho and Claudia Jones. They like to get their own way and follow their own path in life, researchers said. “It is amazing to think that something we do every day can reveal so much about us,” said David Gold from Royal Mail — a postal and delivery provider service.

Study finds autistic adults are more consistent with their choices


People with autism are less likely to be influenced by marketing ploys when choosing between consumer products.

Autism
People with autism are thought to focus more on detail and less on the bigger picture.

A new research has revealed that adults with autism disorder may show more consistent choices in high-level decision-making tasks and are less likely to show a cognitive bias because they are not influenced by the way choices are presented. The findings indicate that individuals with autism are less susceptible to the effects of decoy options when evaluating and choosing the “best” product among several options relative to individuals without autism.

“People with autism are indeed more consistent in their choices than the neurotypical population. From an economic perspective, this suggests that people with autism are more rational and less likely to be influenced by the way choices are presented,” said George Farmer, psychology researcher at the University of Cambridge. People with autism are thought to focus more on detail and less on the bigger picture. Thus, in the study, researchers wanted to know if this tendency would apply to higher-level decision-making tasks.

For the study, published in Psychological Science, the team recruited 90 adults with autism and 212 neurotypical adults to participate in an online decision-making study. The data revealed that, compared with neurotypical participants, participants with autism made more consistent choices and made fewer switches in their selections. The results showed that individuals with autism are less likely to show a cognitive bias that often affects their neurotypical peers. “These findings suggest that people with autism might be less susceptible to having their choices biased by the way information is presented to them – for instance via marketing tricks when choosing between consumer products,” Farmer said.

The Secret Reason We Eat Meat, According To Psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy. 


 

Why do humans eat meat? If you ask the average Joe, they’ll tell you it’s because meat tastes good. If you ask Dr. Melanie Joy, however, who has been studying the psychological drive behind eating meat for decades, she’ll give you a much darker — albeit interesting — answer.  As EducateInspireChange reports, Dr. Joy believes humans eat meat due to the long-engrained ideology of carnism, versus veganism.

“Carnism is a dominant ideology, which means it’s embedded deeply in society to the point that it’s considered ‘just the way things are,’” Joy explained. “But just because something isn’t recognized or is viewed as ‘how things are’ doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Racism wasn’t recognized as a problem or ideology at a point in history but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It [carnism] has just been around for so long that it’s taken for granted.”

Referring to kids eating chicken wings in her example, she added: “When we’re born into a world with a dominant ideology, we can’t help but see the world through that lens. There are people in this world who absolutely need to eat meat because geographically or socially, that’s where they are. Most people, though, have a choice when it comes to eating animals, they’re just not aware of it because they’re blinded by the ideology.”

Watch the animated video below:

The psychologist explains that one of the methods which perpetuates carnism is keeping the process of slaughter and processing out of sight. When cows, chickens, pigs and other livestock are milked, butchered, or kept in tiny crates away from the public’s eye, it remains easy to keep the populace ignorant about what takes place in modern-day agricultural factories.

 During her lesson, Joy presented a few examples that stamp out the notion that carnism is “right” or “intelligent.” For instance, she shared that an average pig has the intelligence of a 3-year-old human being. She also relayed that chickens are able to distinguish between 100 different faces of members of their species — they also have about 30 different calls to signal types of threats. Additionally, she explained that scientists have determined that certain fish have intelligence and pain receptors; this is why in some places in the world, it is illegal to keep fish in small bowls or to boil lobsters alive.

Joy added that agro-businesses go to great lengths to keep the public ignorant about how violent and cruel the process of making meat actually is. Like Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Joy’s ultimate goal is to prompt people to acknowledge that there is, in fact, an ideology. She elaborates on this in her TEDX Talk, “Beyond Carnism and Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices,” which has become one of the top one percent most viewed talks of all time.

Watch her TEDX Talk below:

 

British children ‘unhappiest in the world’, say academics


British schoolchildren are among the most stressed, unhappy and “sedentary” in the developed world, academics and authors warned today.

Growing numbers of children are failing to develop properly at a young age because of the toxic pressures of modern life, it was claimed.

The powerful lobby of childcare experts said that many “commercially vulnerable” under-16s were spending too much time sat unsupervised in front of televisions, games consoles and the internet in their bedroom instead of playing outdoors.

 

Children are also among the most tested in the Western world after being pushed into formal schooling at an increasingly young age and more likely to be exposed to junk food and poor diets than elsewhere, they said.

 

The comments were made as a new group – the Save Childhood Movement – was launched today in bid to highlight the multiple threats facing young people.

It is being backed by leading figures such as Baroness Greenfield, the Oxford University neuroscientist, Sally Goddard-Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-physiological psychology in Chester, Prof Lilian Katz, an expert in early childhood education at Illinois University, and Dr Richard House, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at Roehampton University.

Wendy Ellyatt, the group’s development director, who is also an author and consultant in early education, said the launch reflected growing concerns over the state of modern childhood.

It will campaign on a range of issues covering education, health, technology and commercial pressures that hamper children’s development, she suggested.

The move follows the publication of a landmark report from Unicef last year that found British parents were trapping their children in a cycle of “compulsive consumerism” by showering them with toys and designer labels instead of spending quality time with them.

This came after a 2007 study by the UN children’s agency ranked Britain bottom out of 21 developed countries for child welfare and third from bottom for educational standards.

Mrs Ellyatt said: “Recent research that shows that children in the UK are some of the most pressurised, unhappy and commercially vulnerable in the world.

“Children are living increasingly sedentary, media-saturated lives and are spending less and less time in contact with the natural world.

“This is having profound consequences for our children’s health, especially with regard to what has been called the ‘modern epidemic’ of obesity.

“With increasing fears about traffic and stranger-danger, children’s freedom to play outside has been profoundly restricted and yet statistically the most dangerous place to be is actually in their own home and bedrooms, especially with so many children now having access to unsupervised digital technology.

“This situation has not been helped by risk-averse policy-making.”

Advisers to the group include Prof Philip Gammage, former dean of education at Nottingham University, Dr Aric Sigman, author and fellow of the Society of Biology, and Sue Palmer, former primary school head and authority of the book Toxic Childhood.

Dr House said children’s lives had become increasingly “distorted” over the last decade.

“As parents and citizens, we all certainly need to take more responsibility for the worlds we create for our children,” he said.

“But politicians and policy-makers also have a grave responsibility to minimise the toxic impact of those aspects of modern technological society over which they have some purchase.

“I have long advocated the appointment of a new Minister for Children with a seat in the Cabinet, whose sole task would be to oversee the likely impact on children of all new government legislation,”

A Department of Education spokesman said: “Many parents are fed up with their children being surrounded by adult images and being targeted aggressively to get the latest ‘must-have’ items.

“Reg Bailey undertook a review on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood and his recommendations have already prompted swift action from industry and regulators.

“We’re making progress and have already set up the Parent Port website to keep the pressure up on businesses so they listen and act on parents’ concerns. We are also working with the Chartered Institute of Marketing to explore what more can be done.”

Mobile phone addiction ruining relationships


Not for nothing is a popular mobile phone brand nicknamed the Crackberry.

Andy Puddicombe, founder of meditation app Headspace says: 'The constant demands of alerts, notifications and social networks can leave us feeling worn out'.

Andy Puddicombe, founder of meditation app Headspace says: ‘The constant demands of alerts, notifications and social networks can leave us feeling worn out’

Researchers have found that constantly checking for messages is an addiction which like other drugs can ruin your personal relationships.

 

The survey shows that young adults spend up to seven hours a day interacting with communication technology and their behaviour can spill over into a problem.

For some it can become a compulsion and others feel feelings of withdrawal when they are not with their phone.

 

It is also extremely annoying to those around them.

Is your phone ruining your relationships?
Yes, I’m hopelessly addicted and I know it annoys my friends and familyNo, as long as you have manners this isn’t a problem
 Dr James Roberts, of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, in Texas, said that the “instant messaging” addiction was driven by “materialism and impulsiveness”.

“Mobile phones are a part of our consumer culture,” Dr Roberts said.

“They are not just a consumer tool, but are used as a status symbol. They’re also eroding our personal relationships.”

He said getting hooked on a mobile is similar to other addictions, such as compulsive buying and credit card misuse.

The study is the first to investigate the role materialism plays in mobile phone addiction and the researchers say it is an important consumer value that impacts many decisions shoppers make.

The researchers believe mobile phone use has become so common, it is important to have a better understanding of what drives these types of technological addictions.

Previous studies have revealed young adults, aged 18 to 29, send on average 109.5 texts a day, or approximately 3,200 messages a month.

They receive an additional 113 texts and check their phones 60 times in a typical day and students spend about seven hours a day interacting with information and communication technology.

The study for the Journal of Behavioural Addictions used data from 191 business students and two universities, as mobiles are used by about 90 per cent of students – “serving more than just a utilitarian purpose”, Dr Roberts said.

Mobiles are accessible at any time – including during class – and their functions are forever expanding, making their use or overuse more likely.

And the, researchers say a majority of youngsters claim losing their phone would be “disastrous to their social lives”.

Dr Roberts said: “At first glance, one might have the tendency to dismiss such aberrant mobile phone use as merely youthful nonsense – a passing fad.

“But an emerging body of literature has given increasing credence to cell phone addiction and similar behavioural addictions.”

The addiction has even been given a name – Nomophobia is the term created by British researchers in 2008 to identify people who experience anxiety when they have no access to mobile technology.

A previous study showed that young people are now so addicted to their mobile phones it feels like they have lost a limb when they are without them.

Some said they felt so bereft without their iPhone or Blackberry that it evokes similar feelings to the “phantom limb” syndrome suffered by amputees.

The findings, by the University of Maryland, show the growing reliance that the younger generation has on technology and how it has become central to their lives.

Screen addict parents accused of hypocrisy by their children


Children now worry more about their parents spending too much time on their mobiles or computers than parents worry about their children

Screen addict parents accused of hypocrisy by their children

Almost 70 per cent of children think their parents spent too much time on their mobile phone, iPad or other similar devices, a poll of families found. 

It has become as much a part of modern parenting as getting the children to tidy their room or eat their greens.

But those who order their offspring to switch off televisions, computers or mobile phones because they fear they are becoming addicted might need to take a long hard look at their own screen habits, new research shows.

 

Almost 70 per cent of children think their parents spent too much time on their mobile phone, iPad or other similar devices, a poll of families found.

More than a third of children worry that their parents struggle to switch off from technology and a quarter of children polled openly accuse them of double standards when it comes to excessive use of mobile devices, televisions and computers.

One in five British children say their parents do not listen to them properly when they are together because they are so busy checking their emails or picking up work messages.

The polling was carried out by Opinion Matters a research agency for the New Forest National Park Authority.

The authority has recently begun providing facilities for visitors to hand in mobile phones, tablets and other devices amid fears that technology is invading family life and making it impossible for people to appreciate nature properly because they never switch off.

Dr Richard Graham, a consultant adolescent psychiatrist and expert in technology addiction at Capio Nightingale Hospital in London said there is growing evidence that children are finding their parents’ preoccupation with communications technology increasingly distressing.

“This is a phenomenon that we are all struggling with, be it young or old,” he said.

“One of the things about the New Forest National Park Authority scheme is that, rather like quiet carriages on trains, we are as a culture going to try to establish opportunities to reconnect and do the things which we know from research improves our well-being and health.”

Four in 10 of the children polled admitted that they sometimes communicate with their parents by text, email or social media even they are in the next room.

The poll found that six in 10 parents worry their children are spending too much time glued to small screens at home but almost seven in 10 children have the same fear for their parents.

Overall 37 per cent of children said they and their parents often spend entire evenings attached to their mobile phones rather than talking.

Pointedly, almost one in 10 of the children polled said they wished their parents would call them from work as often as they call work from home.

It follows a warning from a leading psychologist that parents who constantly fiddle with mobile phones or iPads in front of their children are guilty of “benign neglect”.

Mobile addict parents guilty of child ‘neglect’ warns psychologist


Parents who constantly fiddle with mobile phones or iPads in front of their children are guilty of “benign neglect” and risk driving them to a lifelong dependency on screens, a leading psychologist has warned.

Limiting your child’s screen use

A generation of young people is growing up with a virtual addiction to computers, televisions and smartphones with striking similarities to alcoholism, according to Dr Aric Sigman.

By the time they turn seven, children born today will have spent the equivalent of an entire year of their lives watching some form of small screen, he told an audience of doctors.

The effect could be long-term changes to children’s brain circuitry similar to those in other forms of dependency, he said.

He told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow that parents need to “regain control” of their households.

He said: “Passive parenting’ in the face of the new media environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their own households.

Last month a Europe-wide report called for nurseries to ban televisions and called for parents to resist pleas to let children have them in their bedrooms, in a bid to fight obesity among young people.

Dr Sigman, who is both a biologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, drew on research which suggests an association between high levels of screen use and both type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In a presentation on the parallels between screen dependency and alcoholism, he said that on-screen novelty and stimulation caused the release of dopamine, a chemical which plays an important role in the brain’s “reward” system and may be linked to the formation of addictions.

It is estimated that teenagers now spend up to six hours a day in front of some form of small screen.

Children as young as 10 now have access to as many as five different screens at home, often watching two or more at a time, he said in a presentation to the conference and screen dependency.

But parents’ behaviour can play a key role in determining how children will treat technology, he said.

Boys whose parents watch more than four hours a day of television are more than 10 times more likely to develop the same habit as those whose parents do not, he said.

He also singled out parents who maintain high levels of “eye-to-screen contact” at home warning that they are likely to instill similar behaviour in their children

“Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk,” he said.

“Whether children or adults are formally ‘addicted’ to screen technology or not, many of them overuse technology and have developed an unhealthy dependency on it.

“While there are obviously a variety of different factors which may contribute to the development of a dependency – whether it involves substances or activities – the age, frequency, amount of exposure along with the ease of access and the

effects of role modelling and social learning, all strongly increase the risk.

“All of these contribute to a total daily exposure to, or ‘consumption of’, an activity.

“And all are prerequisite factors that contribute to the risk of dependent overuse of technology.”

He called for children under three to have no screen time at all, and no more than an hour a day outside school for those under seven.

Sue Palmer, author of the book Toxic Childhood, said that screens were altering the way children develop basic communication skills.

“Learning to read people’s faces and expressions and body language is absolutely essential in order to develop empathy,” she said.

“The children are simply not getting enough experience of them.”

She said that one midwife had recently told her that it is becoming common for mothers delivering babies to text or post updates to their friends from the delivery room.

“They are not even really present at their children’s births any more,” she said.